Building permit values for the cities of Fort Smith, Greenwood and Van Buren increased 26.23% in April from the same period in 2013. Permits issued in the three cities were $23.163 million, compared to $18.35 million in April 2013.
The first four months of the year have seen even larger gains, with values increasing 41.07% compared to the same period in 2013. During that period, permits totaled $64.95 million while the same four months in 2013 only had a value of $46.041 million. The 2014 figures also represent a 68.93% increase over the first four months of 2012, when only $38.448 million in permits were issued.
The city of Fort Smith saw the largest total of permits issued across the three cities in April, with 222 permits valued at $21.759 million being issued last month, an increase of 23.24% over last year's issuance of $15.62 million in permits.
While residential permits were a large portion of Fort Smith's numbers last April — a new mid-range apartment complex under construction at Chaffee Crossing accounted for a third of the city's building permits during the April period — a variety of smaller commercial and residential projects drove a more balanced permits report.
Forty commercial permits were issued in April with a total value of $11.869 million. The totals included four new projects valued at $5.815 million.
Residential activity was on par with last year's permits, with $1.8 million in duplex construction approved and an additional $4.783 million in generic residential construction permits issued.
Building permits for Fort Smith's southern neighbor were down 56.28% in April. Only $746,320 in permits were issued last month, compared to $1.707 million for the same period last month.
Of the eight permits issued in the city last month, four of those were new residential construction valued at $706,680, while two storm shelters were installed with a total value of $6,000.
Van Buren posted another double digit decline in building permit values for last month, just as it did in April 2013.
The city issued permits valued at $667,400 last month, a 34.76% drop from the same period last month of $1.023 million. That number was itself a 53.51% drop from April 2012, when $2.201 million in permits were issued in the city.
Driving Van Buren's numbers last month were 12 permits valued at $607,400 for new residential construction.
The city also issued two sign permits with a total value of $52,000.
Combined values in the three cities during 2013 were $203.037 million, compared to $157.32 million during 2012. The 2013 value is above the $201.079 million in 2011.
Fort Smith closed 2013 with the largest share of valuations, logging $177.687 million (a one-year increase of about 30.24% from $136.428 million in 2012), while Van Buren was the next largest with $17.067 million (a one-year increase of 38.96% from $12.282 million in 2012). Greenwood posted an additional $8.283 million, the only city to show a decrease from the previous year's total of $8.609 million (a decrease of 3.79%).
The gains in the Fort Smith market were largely from industrial construction projects at Chaffee Crossing, the construction of Mercy's new orthopedic hospital along Phoenix Avenue and various municipal construction projects across the city.