Commercial and Multifamily Construction Starts Make a Comeback in 2021

Stalled construction projects littered the landscape in 2020, but 2021 saw new momentum as commercial and multifamily construction starts roared back to life. According to Dodge Construction Network, the value of commercial and multifamily construction starts increased 18% from 2020 to 2021 in the nation’s top 20 metropolitan areas. Of the top 10 metros, only Washington, DC, and Los Angeles, California, posted a decline. 


Recovery has not been complete, however, as commercial and multifamily construction starts remain below 2019 levels, demonstrating that the sector is still feeling the effects of the pandemic. Larger metros have been hardest hit as construction demand has shifted away from population-dense areas.


Richard Branch, chief economist for Dodge Construction Network, commented that 2022 should bring more even recovery across most commercial project types, while the multifamily sector will continue to benefit from the high cost of single-family homes. “While positivity abounds for the year ahead, be aware that high material prices and a shortage of skilled labor will prove to be limiting factors and will restrain overall growth,” he cautioned.


The commercial and multifamily sector includes commercial garages, hotels, office buildings, multifamily housing, stores and warehouses. It excludes all institutional projects (casinos, convention centers, educational facilities, hospitals, transportation terminals), manufacturing, single-family homes, and public works and utilities.


The top 10 metropolitan areas accounted for 39% of all 2021 commercial and multifamily starts in the United States. Dodge Construction Network ranks them as follows:


  • New York, NY, up 14% ($26.8 billion)
  • Dallas, TX, up 45% ((10.7 billion)
  • Miami, FL, up 65% ((8.4 billion) 
  • Washington, DC, down 9% ($8.4 billion)
  • Boston, MA, up 16% ($7.3 billion)
  • Los Angeles, CA, down 12% ($7.1 billion)
  • Atlanta, GA, up 49% ($6.6 billion)
  • Seattle, WA, up 48% ($6.2 billion)
  • Phoenix, AZ, up 11% ($6.0 billion)
  • Houston, TX, up 5% ($5.5 billion)


In Los Angeles, overall commercial and multifamily starts were down 12% in 2021 and down 24% from the 2019 peak. Commercial starts in Los Angeles were down 32% over the year, due to the fact that several large office and hotel projects broke ground in early 2020. However, starts in the retail and warehouse sectors increased, and multifamily starts improved 6%. The largest multifamily/mixed-use projects to break ground in 2021 were the 520 S. Mateo Arts District ($250 million) and the Broad Block ($215 million).


Metro areas ranked 11-20 by Dodge Construction Network accounted for 18% of all commercial and multifamily starts in 2021.


  • Philadelphia, PA, up 30% ($5.5 billion)
  • Austin, TX, up 9% ($5.4 billion)
  • Chicago, IL, down 31% ($4.9 billion)
  • Orlando, FL, up 40% ($4.3 billion)
  • Denver, CO, up 21% ($4.3 billion)
  • Minneapolis, MN-WI, up 60% ($4.1 billion)
  • San Diego, CA, up 93% ($3.9 billion)
  • San Francisco, CA, up 22% ($3.7 billion)
  • Nashville, TN, down 8% ($3.7 billion)
  • Riverside, CA, up 41% ($3.1 billion)


California-based QuickDraw Fund Control serves many of the nation’s top metro areas from coast to coast. Principal and Founder Greg Norris said, “Commercial and multifamily construction constitutes well over 60% of QuickDraw’s portfolio. Through 2021 and entering 2022, deal flow for these platforms has been and continues to be robust. We are excited and expect to see expansion into both existing and target sub-markets throughout the country’s metropolitan areas.”


QuickDraw is the go-to fund control partner for residential, commercial and industrial construction projects of every size, style and price point. From coast to coast, QuickDraw works to make the fund disbursement process a positive experience for all, with an array of related services, including: Construction Site Inspection, Cost Review, Loan Portfolio Analysis, Photo Documentation and Custom Reporting.

February 17, 2022
QuickDraw Fund Control