Hawaii's construction boom might be coming to an end, UH economists say

Hawaii's construction boom might be coming to an end, UH economists say

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Construction in the islands is booming, but what goes up will probably come down.

That's the takeaway from the newest University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization construction forecast, which says Hawaii's construction industry will likely start to see growth slow in the coming months and could see a decline by 2018.

"You are going to see some transition away from the rapid run-up in building that we saw in Kakaako," UH economist Carl Bonham said.

But there's no signs of that slowdown yet. The building boom in Kakaako continues to fuel a surge in new construction jobs. From January to June, 5,000 construction jobs were added.

"The rail construction, high-rise construction everybody sees in Kakaako, remodeling and home building -- all facets are going," said Craig Washofsky, president of the Building Industry Association.

Washofsky and UHERO predict construction will peak in 2018, then begin to gradually taper off.

The UHERO forecast expects the slip will be gradual: Building will continue, but fewer new condo projects will come on line.

Washofsky agrees Hawaii won't see a big economic decline.

"No one, absent outside forces, is forecasting any of a big kind of a drop at all," he said.

And Bonham said even a slight slowdown in condo building means opportunity for others.

"There are hoteliers who have considered renovating or building or tearing down and rebuilding and they're putting those plans on hold hoping for a time when maybe there's not quite as much intense competition for their dollars," he said.

Meanwhile, Washofsky said any slowdown shouldn't be expected to last.

"Developers will see opportunity, jump on that opportunity and the cycle will pick back up again," he said.

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