Josh Christensen, general manager, Suffolk Construction Co.
Company: Suffolk Construction Co., a Boston-based national builder with a strong presence throughout Southwest Florida and the Gulf Coast, has plenty to look forward to in 2021. For one, it’s expected to finish construction on Tampa Edition Hotel & Residences, a 27-story condo and hotel tower that’s part of Strategic Property Partners’ $3 billion Water Street Tampa development. It will also start work on Red Apple Group’s 45-story condo and hotel tower at 400 Central Ave. in downtown St. Petersburg. “Look for some activity there in the first quarter,” Suffolk General Manager Josh Christensen says. “We’re really excited about that.”
Threats: Suffolk, Christensen says, doesn’t see any threats “that the rest of the world isn’t looking at.” He says the company is keeping an eye on the presidential transition and what President-elect Joe Biden’s administration and the new U.S. Congress will prioritize when it comes to infrastructure. “Depending on the legislation, there may be some greater focus on sustainability, resiliency (and) green building. We might see some shifts there, but as far as overall concerns, I am more positive than negative just because of the influx of people coming to Florida.” Suffolk had one project shut down because of fallout from the pandemic, but it has since restarted and Christensen sees no reason to believe there will be significant disruptions ahead. “We’re very fortunate that basically our entire industry was deemed essential,” Christensen says.
Opportunities: The importance of Florida’s population surge can’t be understated, Christensen says. The boom has only strengthened during the coronavirus pandemic as people look to get out of crowded, cold-weather northern cities. “Starts did slow down a bit, but with all of the people moving to Florida, there’s a lot in the hopper,” he says. Florida’s construction industry is somewhat insulated from downturns because construction of offices, schools, churches, retail establishments and other public and commercial spaces tends to follow the population, unlike other areas of the country where people move to where amenities are located. “The luxury condominium market is strong right now,” Christensen says, “but all the way on the other end of the spectrum, affordable housing is also a robust market. Residential is going to be strong to keep up with the people moving here.”