story by Ryan Saylor
The values of building permits in Fort Smith, Greenwood and Van Buren were a combined $20.975 million in July, up nearly $6.46 million from July 2013 when the combined cities issued $14.515 million in permits.
The increase in values represents a 44.51% increase compared to July 2013.
Building permit values for the first seven months of the year are up 10.23% over the same period last year, with $117.96 million in permits issued this year versus $107.017 million issued from January to July of last year. When compared to the first seven months of 2012, this year's year to date total is an increase of 55.98% over that year's $75.627 million total.
Last month, the city of Fort Smith issued a total of 185 permits with a total value of $19.539 million. Compared to July 2013, the city's permit values increased 41.38% from a total of $13.82 million last year.
When compared with permit values from July 2012 of $6.996 million, Fort Smith's building permits are up 179.23%.
Pushing Fort Smith's total values higher for the month was a $9.764 million building permit issued for the Ben Geren Aquatics Center at 7300 South Zero Street. The project, jointly funded by the city of Fort Smith and Sebastian County, is expected to be complete and open to the public by Memorial Day 2015.
The aquatics center project accounted for 65.69% of the city's $14.862 million in commercial building projects permitted during the month of July.
The city also issued 123 residential building permits valued at $4.216 million, with 12 new construction projects accounting for $3.098 million of the total, or 73.47%.
Seven building permits were issued in the city of Greenwood last month with a total value of $876,725. The figure for July represents a 249.29% increase from July 2013's total of $251,000 on five permits.
Of the permits issued, four were residential permits valued at $837,385, or 95.51% of the total permits issued.
Van Buren saw 40 permits issued with a total valuation of $559,100, an increase of 25.95% over July 2013's total of $443,920 on 28 permits.
A commercial addition valued at $330,000 at 1300 Scott Street accounted for 59.02% of Van Buren's July building permits.
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.