Netflix to expand New Mexico base into one of America’s
Netflix has announced plans to expand its studio complex in New Mexico to create one of the largest media production hubs in North America.
The revamped base, on the southern outskirts of Albuquerque, will have 10 more sound stages as well as extra post-production services, offices, backlots and other infrastructure. Altogether, the project will add about 120ha to the existing structure.
Netflix built its existing studios in 2018. Lujan Grisham, the governor of New Mexico, commented: “Ever since Netflix first chose New Mexico, they have been nothing but an incredible partner, pushing the boundaries of innovation and expansion while providing fulfilling work opportunities for so many New Mexicans.
Among the incentives offered to Netflix were municipal bonds to abate property and other taxes for the next 20 years, covering the first $500m invested by Netflix to build the production facility.
As part of the proposed investment, Netflix has committed to providing training programmes in partnership with the New Mexico Film Office, local universities and industry organisations, and the company has also agreed to support Native American, Latino, black and other underrepresented content creators.
New York construction spending down $4bn this year
Despite the tragic impact of Covid-19 on New York City, total construction spending there is forecast to exceed spending in eight of the past 10 years, calculates the New York Building Congress.
It should reach $55.5bn this year, which is an 8.5% drop from 2019’s $60.6bn outlay – some $4.1bn – but if the congress is right, it will match 2017’s then-record-breaking total.
“This report evidences both the resiliency of the building industry and that investment in infrastructure creates jobs and boosts economic recovery. The Building Congress will continue working to ensure that this growth lasts for years to come.”
The congress anticipates $17.8bn in residential construction spending this year, down from a peak of $19.7bn in 2019.
From 2020 to 2022, residential construction is expected to add 50,450 new housing units, with 20,450 units in 2020 and 15,000 units in each subsequent year.
Office construction, which traditionally accounts for half of non-residential spending, is predicted to increase in 2021 and decline in 2022.
Spending will be driven by an increase in interior renovations and a decline in core and shell construction.
The congress notes that final capital expenditures are heavily dependent on federal aid; its forecast assumes the MTA and Port Authority will attain all or most of funds requested.
Hill boss predicts Middle East rebound as Covid
US project management company Hill International is predicting a quick return of demand for construction in the Middle East and North Africa as the coronavirus recedes and the effects of peace treaties spread through the regions.
About 45% of Hill’s orders come from the Middle East and North Africa, and the main economies here all entered recession during 2020.
Output is forecast to fall 5.2% in the UAE, the region’s second biggest economy. However, the impact of the pandemic will be much greater on Dubai, which is more dependent than other emirates on aviation and investor confidence. A recent report by S&P said its GDP would fall 11% this year, the impact of which was underlined last month by the liquidation of Arabtec (see further reading).
“The delays that we’ve seen are mainly for new projects. And we’ve had a lot of problems mobilising new talent that we needed on existing projects because the airports are closed, but we’re starting to see a little bit of movement on that.”
Middle East outlook
However, he added that the construction sector had lost the momentum it had before the lockdown in March.
“The large PMOs [project management offices] that everyone was expecting have been disassembled, and I think it will take a bit of time for them to reorganise and see how they’re going to substitute that whole strategy with a new strategy which is more manageable to really implement the infrastructure programmes they want and need, such as the new cities around the Red Sea, and we’re starting to see more positive movements on this.”
“I think this will eventually create new business opportunities for the entire region, and I think you’re going to start seeing some of that come through in 2021. The Dubai expo will take place and, generally, the UAE will have the Covid situation a lot more under control.”
The outlook is also less dark than it might appear in North Africa, according to Ghali.
Egypt is expected to be the regional economy least affected by the coronavirus – a fall in GDP of 0.5% is predicted – thanks in part to public investment in infrastructure and large-scale construction projects.
When the Libyan civil war broke out in 2011, that market accounted for almost 10% of Hill’s project backlog. The company eventually recovered about $70m for work done from the Organization for Development of Administrative Centres, a Libyan government agency, leaving more than $30m still unpaid.
Big plans at home
On Trump, Ghali said: “A lot of the infrastructure packages were being held hostage because of political agendas that he had, and we were quite disappointed with it … the US requires a tremendous amount of overhauling and renovation, so the US market is a big focus for us, to a much greater extent than before”.
Ghali said Hill had been prevented from making acquisitions in the past owing to liquidity problems, but these had receded and he intended “to be coming in pretty strong on a focused approach for acquisitions”.
He said rail would also be a growth area, with Egypt taking the lead, followed by extensions to the Middle East’s metros. By contrast, real estate development was likely to be less of a priority for the company.
Engineering News-Record recently ranked it as the eighth-largest construction management firm in the US.