Fort Smith area building permit values up 50.5% in the first quarter

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 154 views 

The combined value of building permits issued in Fort Smith, Greenwood and Van Buren during the first quarter of 2015 was up more than 50% thanks primarily to a $22 million permit issued in March for construction of the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Located on 27 acres at Chaffee Crossing, the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine is expected to open in the fall of 2016. A groundbreaking for the school was held March 3. The osteopathic school will be housed in a three story, 102,000-square-foot building valued at $32.4 million. A fully operational osteopathic college is expected to serve about 600 students, and employ around 65 (full-time equivalent jobs) with an average salary of $103,000.

Permit values in the three cities for the quarter were $62.911 million, up 50.5% over the $41.785 million in the same period of 2014. The 2015 first quarter tally was also well ahead of the $27.691 million during the first quarter of 2013.

Obviously, without the osteopathic college permit, the first quarter permit value would have trailed 2014 activity.

Also obvious is that construction in Fort Smith was the bulk of regional activity. Fort Smith permit values accounted for 89% of the combined values among the three cities during the quarter.

The city issued permits valued at $55.971 million in the quarter, up 80.5% compared to the first quarter of 2014. Other than the osteopathic college, other large commercial projects permitted in the quarter include:
• $3.83 million for a Walmart Neighborhood Market at 8600 U.S. 71 S.;
• $2 million for the first phase of the Greg Smith River Walk along the Arkansas River and beginning near downtown Fort Smith;
• $1.6 million for work on the River Valley Sports Complex at Chaffee Crossing; and
• $1.4 million for work at Mercy Fort Smith.

Residential construction, often a sign of economic health, also was strong during the quarter. The city issued residential construction permits totaling $10.737 million during the quarter, up 51.7% compared to the $7.075 million during the 2014 quarter. Boosting the residential permit values was a $1.618 million new home permit at 1900 Cobble Hill Road and a $720,000 new home permit in the Carrington Pointe subdivision.

Area homebuilders ended the quarter on a strong note, with the city issuing 105 permits for residential construction work totaling $6.295 million, well ahead of the $1.641 million in residential permit values during March 2014.

Building permit values in Greenwood totaled $3.205 million during the first quarter, more than three times the $1.021 million in the first quarter of 2014. More than half of the gain came from March permit values of $1.181 million, much higher than the $373,676 in permit values from March 2014.

The March 2015 tally was driven by three new home permits with a combined value of $1.059 million.

Van Buren permit values during the first quarter were down more than 61% thanks to two large projects – $4 million Legacy Heights addition and $3.567 million Van Buren police station – permitted in the first quarter of 2014.

The city issued permits with a combined value of $3.734 million during the quarter, down from the $9.762 million in the 2014 quarter.

However, like Fort Smith and Greenwood, the city ended the quarter on a good note with respect to residential construction. Van Buren officials issued $1.219 million for 10 residential construction projects, considerably higher than the less than $100,000 in March 2014.

Building permit value gains in Fort Smith and Van Buren helped push regional permit values up almost 6% in 2014 compared to 2013. Several taxpayer-funding projects – water park, police station and schools – helped boost the 2014 regional numbers.

For the year, Fort Smith permit values were up 6.61% and Van Buren permit values were up an impressive 85.7%. Greenwood had a 4.4% decline in permit values compared to 2013.

Fort Smith
2014: $189.445 million
2013: $177.687 million
2012: $136.248 million

2014: $7.918 million
2013: $8.283 million
2012: $8.609 million

Van Buren
2014: $16.813 million
2013: $9.049 million
2012: $9.983 million

Combined total for the three cities
2014: $214.176 million
2013: $195.019 million
2012: $154.840 million

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