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Seattle Trails Toronto For Most Cranes, S.F. Has Highest Increase

Seattle's crane count drops below 50 for the first time since 2015.

Seattle’s crane count fell below 50 for the first time since 2015, though it still remains the highest in the nation.

As of January, the city had 45 cranes, according to the Crane Index released by the international property and construction consultancy Rider Levett Bucknall. Meanwhile, construction costs in the city increased by 5.21%.

Seattle has the most cranes in the United States, while Toronto, with 88, has the most cranes in North America.

San Francisco’s crane number jumped by 18% in the fourth quarter, the highest increase of any North American city. The Bay Area’s construction is driven mostly by job growth in the tech industry. Construction is growing in the commercial, office and mixed-use/residential sectors.

Despite Seattle's falling number of cranes and rising costs, the construction market remains strong, the RLB report said. Seattle’s 2018 construction forecast remains positive.

The Emerald City’s construction is fueled by strong job and wage growth, thanks in part to Amazon’s hiring binge. The pace of construction remains steady and new cranes replace the ones that are taken down. Mixed-use building construction makes up one-third of the crane count number, followed by construction in the residential, education, commercial, healthcare, hospitality and transportation sectors.

Particularly active areas include South Lake Union, Capitol Hill and the University District. 

The index counted 383 cranes in North America in January, compared to 381 in July. Construction costs rose about 1% between July and October.

San Francisco’s construction costs rose 7.63% over the quarter, the highest of any North American city. Los Angeles and Portland’s construction costs increased 7.08% and 5.76%, respectively.