Surveyed contractors say renovation, big-box reuse and entertainment retail are among the trends most likely to impact retail construction.

As bricks and mortar go up around today's retail real estate projects, the lines between shopping center category types are increasingly fuzzy. Strip centers are beginning to take on power center tenants; power centers are appointed with regional mall-type finishings and amenities; and regional centers are starting to aspire to their urban brethren.

At the front lines of this changing retail landscape are the retail industry's leading contractors -- ranked here in Shopping Center World's 10th annual survey. The contractor rankings, beginning at right, measure both retail interior and shell GLA constructed during the five-year period ending March 31, 1997.

While surveyed contractors cast an overall mood of optimism, it is clear that, as contractors move forward to their next successful venture, not all compasses point in the same direction. Some are full of optimism and see construction starts on the horizon; others see a more conservative view of the future, with renovations, entertainment retail and adaptive reuse cited as dominant trends.

Refreshing space Renovations of existing retail space describe the current and future complexion of contracting, according to surveyed contractors. "As far as construction in retail markets goes, renovating stores will increase with less new building," says Camille Tedesio, director of business development for International Contractors Inc., Elmhurst, Ill.

Tedesio adds that the industry could see a change in tenant mix. "Shopping centers -- especially strip centers -- will incorporate other businesses, such as doctors' offices, banks and commercial offices," she says.

Larry Harkey, president of operations for Miller Building Corp., Wilmington, N.C., also sees renovation and fewer new starts. "[There will be] continued expansion and uplift to existing centers and malls, with not as many new construction starts."

James Sattler, chief executive officer of EMJ Corp., Chattanooga, Tenn., sees center facelifts as growing in number, while new centers flatten out. "1997 will continue at the same rapid pace as 1996," he says. "Major strip tenants will continue to expand into existing and new markets. Remodel and expansion of existing malls will increase, and construction of new regional malls will remain constant."

For Michael Rothholtz, president of C.D. Build Group Ltd., Northbrook, Ill., big-box conversion also will continue to dominate. "We foresee the recycling of big-box space as the challenge of the 1990s," he says. "The turnover of these spaces and how they are creatively put to retail, medical and other uses will continue to be a source of retail retrofitting."

A common thread While contractors say construction will be dominated by remodels and renovations, they also note that entertainment and themed retail will take center stage and drive new building.

Frank Moson, corporate vice president for MBK Construction Ltd., Irvine, Calif., says department stores are not the only driver of foot traffic in today's centers. "Entertainment retail is the hot ticket," he says. "The traditional anchor is no longer the only big draw at regional retail centers. Builders and developers who can find the right mix of entertainment retail and restaurants [and who can subsequently] increase customer visits and length of stay will be the winners."

Dale Scott, vice president for Maitland, Fla.-based Keene Construction Co., agrees with Moson, adding that growth in the retail sector will continue through 1998, with a "major emphasis on entertainment complexes and mixed-use centers."

Marc Ferguson, vice president of Price Woods Inc., Mesa, Ariz., adds that, regardless of how industry developers and builders see the industry direction, shoppers' preferences will, in the end, speak the loudest. "A shift to 'specialized' or 'brand name' independent retailing seems to be preferred by the public," he says. "Be on the lookout for more themed environments."

Other new opportunities will be limited to those few regions that are not already overbuilt. "The boom of the past few years is over," declares Jack O'Connor, executive vice president for Chicago-based Novak Construction Co.

Both Altadena, Calif.-based Charles Pankow Builders Ltd. and El Monte, Calif.-based Keller Construction Co. Ltd. report a lower amount of retail building comprising their overall portfolio. And Sandra Werthman, vice president of marketing for Phoenix, Ariz.-based Kitchell Contractors, sees a decline in some larger building projects. "Traditional retail space is generally overbuilt, and we see a decline in larger planned projects," she says.

Room to move The uptick in the U.S. economy and the aggressive expansion plans of many retailers combine, however, to fuel an overall upbeat mood among retail contractors.

"We believe that the retail market will continue its momentum throughout 1997 and 1998, as retailers continue to seek out profitable, untapped markets," says Chris Sanders, president of Chesapeake, Va.-based Armada/Hoffler Construction Co.,

"Our outlook is very positive," says Jeff Lee, project manager for Hudson Construction Co., Chattanooga, Tenn. "All of our retail clients are committed to growth in 1997 and 1998. New construction starts have been up for the past two to three years, and the trend is continuing to [afford] the same opportunities in the future."

Robert Crawford, president of Springdale, Pa.-based R.E. Crawford Co., concurs with Lee. "The outlook is very promising," he says. "Clients are constantly informing us of new leases and properties they are purchasing for new construction."

"The revival of urban retailing is gathering considerable momentum," says Bruce Manson, executive vice president of Graycor Construction Co. Inc. (formerly Inland Construction Co.), Homewood, Ill. "Many big-box stores are looking at unconventional sites in more urban neighborhoods in order to continue their growth."

Keith Gilliland, director of business development for LaPorte, Ind.-based Larson-Danielson Construction Co. Inc., adds that, by combining the need of expanding retailers with seasoned, knowledgeable contractors, construction jobs will be at a constant.

"Retail construction is always changing," he says. "Whether retailers are looking for a new location, expanding on an old location or in search of a new look, construction needs are always out there. If a general contracting firm excels in the field of retail construction, the opportunities for new projects always will be there."

Leading Retail Contractors Interior Construction Ranking is based on total square footage of retail interiors constructed during the five-year period ending March 31, 1997, as reported to Shopping Center World.

1 EMJ Corp.; Chattanooga, TN; (423) 855-1550; 17,019,389 sq. ft.

2 Fisher Development Inc.; San Francisco, CA; (800) 227-4392 or (415) 468-1717; 15,850,297 sq. ft.

3 The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.; Baltimore, MD; (410) 821-1100; 13,436,710 sq. ft.

4 Miller Building Corp.; Wilmington, NC; (910) 256-2613; 12,786,350 sq. ft.

5 Walbridge Aldinger; Tampa, FL; (813) 622-8900; 12,302,888 sq. ft.

6 R.A.S. Builders; Englewood, CO; (303) 762-0505; 11,888,240 sq. ft.

7 Hoar Construction; Birmingham, AL; (205) 969-1900; 9,548,312 sq. ft.

8 Vratsinas Construction Co.; Little Rock, AR; (501) 376-0017; 9,200,000 sq. ft.

9 S.D. Deacon Corp.; Portland, OR; (503) 297-8791; 8,920,708 sq. ft.

10 Hardin Construction Group Inc.; Atlanta, GA; (404) 264-3589; 8,734,850 sq. ft.

11 Gallant Construction Co.; Marengo, IL; (815) 568-1880; 8,500,210 sq. ft.

12 MBK Construction Ltd.; Irvine, CA; (714) 789-8300; 8,200,000 sq. ft.

13 Keene Construction Co.; Maitland, FL; (407) 740-6116; 8,140,123 sq. ft.

14 Hale-Mills Construction Inc.; Houston, TX; (713) 665-1100; 7,830,600 sq. ft.

15 Shrader & Martinez Construction Inc.; Sedona, AZ; (520) 282-7554; 7,736,000 sq. ft.

16 Capitol Construction Group; Wheeling, IL; (847) 215-2500; 7,108,396 sq. ft.

17 EDC; Richmond, VA; (804) 320-5555; 7,050,000 sq. ft.

18 McCrory Construction Co.; Columbia, SC; (803) 799-8100; 6,870,000 sq. ft.

19 Oakview Construction Inc.; Red Oak, IA; (712) 623-5561; 6,846,200 sq. ft.

20 Graycor Construction Co.(formerly Inland Construction Co.); Homewood, IL; (708) 206-0500; 6,641,000 sq. ft.

21 Lyle Parks Jr. Inc.; Anaheim, CA; (714) 632-3210; 6,500,000 sq. ft.

22 The Pepper Companies Inc.; Chicago, IL; (312) 266-4700; 6,490,689 sq. ft.

23 Hudson Construction Co.C; hattanooga, TN; (423) 624-2631; 6,311,051 sq. ft.

24 Konover Construction Corp.; West Hartford, CT; (860) 236-6981; 6,143,576 sq. ft.

25 Porter McLeod National Retail Inc.; Denver, CO; (303) 756-2227; 6,025,000 sq. ft.

26 L.F. Jennings Inc.; Falls Church, VA; (703) 241-1200; 5,848,000 sq. ft. 27 E.W. Howell Co. Inc.; Port Washington, NY; (516) 621-1100; 5,706,800 sq. ft.

28 De Jager Construction Inc.; Wyoming, MI; (616) 530-0060; 5,583,907 sq. ft.

29 R.E. Crawford Co.; Springdale, PA; (412) 274-5000; 5,500,000 sq. ft.

30 Hawkins Construction Inc.; Tarpon Springs, FL; (813) 938-9719; 5,480,000 sq. ft. 31 R.D. Olson Construction; Anaheim, CA; (714) 777-4434; 5,266,000 sq. ft.

32 Weekes Construction Inc.; Greenville, SC; (864) 233-0061; 5,138,520 sq. ft.

33 Hardy Building Corp.; Virginia Beach, VA; (757) 463-5666; 5,131,212 sq. ft.

34 Benmoore Construction & Management Corp.; Hackensack, NJ; (201) 489-4466l 5,053,600 sq. ft.

35 Armada/Hoffler Construction Co.; Chesapeake, VA; (757) 366-4000; 4,967,490 sq. ft.

36 Jayeff Construction; Manasquan, NJ(; 908) 223-5320; 4,951,000 sq. ft.

37 Weis Builders Inc.; Minneapolis, MN; (612) 858-9999; 4,706,000 sq. ft.

38 C.D. Build Group Ltd.; Northbrook, IL; (847) 480-1150; 4,680,000 sq. ft.

39 Novak Construction Co.; Chicago, IL; (773) 278-1100; 4,543,206 sq. ft.

40 Shames Construction Co. Ltd.; Livermore, CA; (510) 606-3000; 4,500,000 sq. ft.

41 Elder-Jones Inc.; Bloomington, MN; (612) 854-2854; 4,350,000 sq. ft.

42 Stewart & Perry Construction; Birmingham, AL; (205) 414-6000; 4,123,000 sq. ft.

43 Richter+Ratner Contracting Corp.; Maspeth, NY; (718) 497-1600; 4,081,000 sq. ft.

44 Bovis Inc.; New York, NY; (212) 592-6800; 4,071,682 sq. ft.

45 U.S. Design & Construction; Houston, TX; (713) 953-9090; 3,830,000 sq. ft.

46 MSB Inc.; Escondido, CA; (760) 751-5050; 3,687,000 sq. ft.

47 Beaver Builders Ltd.; Newton, MA; (617) 965-9600; 3,600,000 sq. ft.

48 Robert E. Bayley Construction; Seattle, WA; (206) 621-8884; 3,574,000 sq. ft.

49 A.J. Etkin Construction Co.; Farmington Hills, MI; (810) 737-5800; 3,377,250 sq. ft.

50 Bostleman Corp.; Holland, OH; (419) 867-7900; 3,228,057 sq. ft.

Leading Retail ContractorsShell Construction Ranking is based on total square footage of retail shell space constructed during the five-year period ending March 31, 1997, as reported to Shopping Center World. An asterisk indicates a tie.

1 The Whiting-Turner Contracting Co.; Baltimore, MD; (410) 821-1100; 19,195,300 sq. ft.

2 EMJ Corp.; Chattanooga, TN; (423) 855-1550; 18,001,175 sq. ft.

3 Walbridge Aldinger; Tampa, FL; (813) 622-8900; 15,188,751 sq. ft.

4 Bovis Inc.; New York, NY; (212) 592-6800; 12,393,627 sq. ft.

5 Miller Building Corp.; Wilmington, NC; (910) 256-2613; 11,448,972 sq. ft.

6 L.F. Jennings Inc.; Falls Church, VA; (703) 241-1200; 9,542,836 sq. ft.

7 Vratsinas Construction Co.; Little Rock, AR; (501) 376-0017; 9,500,000 sq. ft.

8 Hale-Mills Construction Inc.; Houston, TX; (713) 665-1100; 9,472,000 sq. ft.

9 Keene Construction Co.; Maitland, FL; (407) 740-6116; 8,847,960 sq. ft.

10 Beaver Builders Ltd.; Newton, MA; (617) 965-9600; 8,700,000 sq. ft.

11S .D. Deacon Corp.; Portland, OR; (503) 297-8791; 8,673,550 sq. ft.

12 IMC Inc.(International Management Consultants); Malvern, PA; (610) 889-3600; 8,076,787 sq. ft.

13* Lyle Parks Jr. Inc.; Anaheim, CA; (714) 632-3210; 8,000,000 sq. ft.

13* MBK Construction Ltd.; Irvine, CA; (714) 789-8300; 8,000,000 sq. ft.

15 Pinkerton & Laws Inc.; Atlanta, GA; (770) 956-9000; 7,423,637 sq. ft.

16 R.E. Crawford Co.; Springdale, PA; (412) 274-5000; 6,732,000 sq. ft.

17 Hardin Construction Group Inc.; Atlanta, GA; (404) 264-3589; 6,318,000 sq. ft.

18 Hudson Construction Co.; Chattanooga, TN; (423) 624-2631; 6,311,051 sq. ft.

19 Hawkins Construction Inc.; Tarpon Springs, FL; (813) 938-9719; 6,160,000 sq. ft.

20 Graycor Construction Co. Inc.(formerly Inland Construction Co.); Homewood, IL; (708) 206-0500; 5,960,000 sq. ft.

21 S.M. Wilson & Co.; Granite City, IL; (618) 451-9595; 5,949,699 sq. ft.

22; Keller Construction Co. Ltd.; El Monte, CA; (818) 443-66335,750,000 sq. ft.

23 R.D. Olson Construction; Anaheim, CA; (714) 777-4434; 5,592,000 sq. ft.

24 R.A.S. Builders; Englewood, CO; (303) 762-0505; 5,527,710 sq. ft.

25 Tri-North Builders Inc.; Madison, WI; (608) 271-8717; 5,500,000 sq. ft.

26 John S. Clark Co. Inc.; Mount Airy, NC; (910) 789-1000; 5,336,614 sq. ft.

27 Weis Builders Inc.; Minneapolis, MN; (612) 858-9999; 5,026,000 sq. ft.

28 Hoar Construction; Birmingham, AL; (205) 969-1900; 4,893,446 sq. ft.

29 The Weitz Co. Inc.; Des Moines, IA; (515) 246-4700; 4,809,531 sq. ft.

30 Near-Cal Corp.; Lake Elsinore, CA; (909) 245-5400; 4,701,935 sq. ft.

31 Armada/Hoffler Construction Co.; Chesapeake, VA; (757) 366-4000; 4,634,790 sq. ft.

32 E.W. Howell Co. Inc.; Port Washington, NY; (516) 621-1100; 4,530,000 sq. ft.

33 The Walsh Group; Chicago, IL; (312) 563-5400; 4,320,000 sq. ft.

34 Rockwell Construction Corp.; Pompano Beach, FL; (954) 977-7000; 4,313,000 sq. ft

35 Stewart & Perry Construction; Birmingham, AL; (205) 414-6000; 4,286,000 sq. ft.

36 Charles Pankow Builders Ltd.; Altadena, CA; (213) 684-2320; 4,268,000 sq. ft.

37 Robert E. Bayley Construction; Seattle, WA; (206) 621-8884; 4,220,000 sq. ft.

38 Konover Construction Corp.; West Hartford, CT; (860) 236-6981; 4,205,622 sq. ft.

39 The Pepper Companies Inc.; Chicago, IL; (312) 266-4700; 4,132,530 sq. ft.

40 Koll Construction; Pleasanton, CA; (510) 426-1006; 3,552,000 sq. ft.

41 Capitol Construction Group Inc.; Wheeling, IL; (847) 215-2500; 3,525,789 sq. ft.

42 Dillon Enterprises LimitedLemont, IL(630) 257-52323,450,000 sq. ft.

43 McCrory Construction Co. Inc.; Columbia, SC; (803) 799-8100; 3,265,000 sq. ft.

44 W. E. O'Neil Construction Co.; Chicago, IL; (773) 327-1611; 3,126,000 sq. ft.

45 Porter McLeod National Retail; Denver, CO; (303) 756-2227; 3,100,000 sq. ft.

46 Bostleman Corp.; Holland, OH; (419) 867-7900; 2,906,333 sq. ft.

47 Corna/Kokosing Construction Co.; Columbus, OH; (614) 279-8844; 2,897,040 sq. ft.

48 The Harper Corp.-General Contractors; Greenville, SC; (864) 242-9113; 2,873,861 sq. ft.

49 Oakview Construction Inc.; Red Oak, IA; (712) 623-5561; 2,860,900 sq. ft.

50 Rentenbach Constructors Inc.; Knoxville, TN; (423) 546-2440; 2,561,416 sq. ft.