Jonesboro issued $14.556 million in commercial permits in February, nearly three times as much as was issued in the same month in the last two years – combined. The city issued a total of $22.314 in residential and commercial permits in 2017, a 49% increase from the same two months in 2016 ($11.202 million), and it dwarfed the $10.290 million in permits issued during January and February in 2015.
A growing local economy, favorable weather, and timing were among the factors that led to so such unprecedented growth last month, Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Mark Young told Talk Business & Politics.
“We watch those numbers very closely … the number of construction projects in Jonesboro indicate a healthy economy,” Young said.
Commercial permit growth was fueled by the $137 million renovation project St. Bernards announced in late 2015. At least $10.950 million worth of permits were granted in February at various project locations in city for the health system. The largest was a $5.850 million permit issued for the Clopton Clinic at 300 Carson St., owned by the health system.
St. Bernards completed the first phase of the renovation last fall when it’s $9.9 million Ben E. Owens Cancer Treatment Center. Phase two of the project will include a renovation of the Heartcare Center that could cost up to $10 million and include an expansion of all invasive service facilities. A new electrophysiology lab and new hybrid lab will be built, and the old cardiac catheterization lab will be renovated. More labs will also be built, along with a 30-patient preparation and recovery area, and other updates. Hospital officials hope to have this phase of the project finished by late summer 2017.
The third phase involves construction of a five-story, 245,000-square-foot surgical tower. Numerous surgery-related services, a chapel, critical care areas, and others will be housed in the tower. To build the tower, the old St. Bernards Annex building will be demolished. Construction on the tower and a reconfiguration of the emergency room/services department will begin next year and cost about $75 million. It’s slated to be completed in late 2018.
The fourth phase of the project will be a renovation of the existing medical center. Patient rooms will be remodeled, as will designated public areas. Kitchen and dining spaces will also receive updates.
The city issued $4.776 million worth of residential permits the same month, an 8% increase as compared to 2016. It’s more than double ($2.225 million) the number of residential permits doled the same month in 2015. Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin told Talk Business & Politics this could be a banner year for the city.
“I think we’re on target to hit $200 million this year … there are already several big projects on the horizon, including the convention centers, that will bring in a lot of revenue. So we’re in good shape right now,” Perrin said.
Young said economic and civic leaders are pleased with the permit numbers, but the figures can change drastically from month to month. February was unusually warm and dry which may have led to better construction conditions. Young typically compares the permits on a year to year basis to get a better grasp of what the true trend lines, he said.
Those numbers have been significant in recent years. Jonesboro issued about $186 million worth of residential and commercial permits in 2016, a 23% increase from the more than $151 million in permits in 2015, according to the city. Last year’s total is the most ever in Northeast Arkansas’ hub city, excluding 2011 when $273 million in permits were issued, according to numbers released. That year permits were issued for the new $400 million NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital, the largest commercial project in the state’s history at the time, according to estimates.
Jonesboro collected $514,413.29 in new building permit fees in 2016, a 53.7% uptick from the previous year. Those collections fees were for new commercial buildings, multi-family buildings, residential duplex buildings, and single family homes. At least $66.119 million in single family homes received permits last year, a 43.4% increase from 2015. Commercial sales topped $59 million, a more than 40% increase from the previous year.
“The numbers in Jonesboro point in a very positive economic direction,” Young said.
2016: $186 million
2015: $151 million
2014: $146.162 million
2013: $126.975 million
2012: $135.847 million
2011: $273.17 million