The Dodge Momentum Index rose 5.2 percent in April from the previous month, according to the latest report from McGraw Hill Construction, a division of McGraw Hill Financial. The Momentum Index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year.

Gains have been reported for the Momentum Index in each of this year’s first four months, and since December 2012 the Momentum Index is up 23 percent. The April increase brings the Momentum Index to 114.4, the highest level since mid-2009, according to the report.

McGraw Hill attributes the latest rise to “a strong upturn by [the] commercial segment.”

“New plans for commercial buildings rose 8.5 percent in April, buttressed by several retail projects,” writes the company. “Among the larger retail developments to enter planning in April were a new $71 million outlet center in Niagara Falls, N.Y., and a $60 million shopping center in San Francisco, Calif.  New plans for a 347-room luxury hotel planned for the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., gave the pipeline for commercial development a further boost.”

The institutional segment saw a 1.2-percent gain in April, as a decline in plans for new healthcare buildings offset a gain for education-related development, including a new $120 million veterinary building and lab at Texas A&M University, according to the report.