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Development and Construction Industries Already Seeing Impact of Coronavirus

Brent Warren Brent Warren Development and Construction Industries Already Seeing Impact of CoronavirusThe CoverMyMeds campus construction site. Photo by Brent Warren.
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Keep up with regular news updates regarding Columbus and Ohio’s response to COVID-19 here.

Although many construction sites around Columbus are still buzzing with workers, significant disruptions from the Coronavirus pandemic have already been felt by developers, architects, construction workers, and others in the industry.

Columbus Underground reached out to some local developers to get a sense of how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting their projects; either the ones that are currently under construction, or those that are still in the planning or approval stages.

Most of the people contacted understandably did not want to speculate too far into the future, given the high level of uncertainty about how this crisis will unfold. There was a general sense, though, that – while the construction and development industries may not be seeing the immediate upheaval that the restaurant and tourism sectors are – the long-term impact will likely be significant.

Jeff Baur of Connect Realty said that they have been adjusting their construction procedures in order to limit the number of workers in specific areas on each job site. The City of Columbus is still performing inspections, he added, “which is helpful, but that could change at anytime…[it’s] definitely a fluid situation.”

Others said that construction is proceeding, but has slowed on some job sites.

The biggest impact for now, though, is on early-stage projects. The City of Columbus, along with surrounding suburban jurisdictions, has cancelled upcoming zoning, historic commission and design review meetings, meaning that new proposals are not getting reviewed by the citizen panels that normally approve them.

Some suppliers have also closed or decreased production.

“It’s too early to tell,” said Michael Schiff, of Schiff Capital Group, when asked about the general impact that COVID-19 was having on the industry. “Much will depend on how long it lasts and how the government responds with assistance.”

Michael Tomko, President of the Tomko Company, said that residential and office projects that were already relatively far along before the virus hit will still probably be completed on time, but “we’re going to see a lot of hotel or retail-heavy projects, as well as the majority of early-stage projects, stall out.”

“Keeping development in Columbus moving forward is going to require significant investment by local and state government,” he added. “We were already in the middle of an affordability crisis, and with increasing unemployment and supply projections decreasing, we’ll need leaders in government to take bold action.”

For more information on COVID-19 in Ohio, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov or call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.

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