Editor’s note: This story is a component of The Compass Report. The quarterly Compass Report is managed by Talk Business & Politics, and sponsored by Arvest Bank. Supporting sponsors of The Compass Report are Cox Communications and the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Construction activity in the Fort Smith region picked up in the back half of 2015 with combined permit values in Fort Smith, Greenwood and Van Buren totaling more than $225 million, up more than 13% compared to 2014.
Permit values in the three cities were down 1.9% at the end of July, even with a $22 million permit issued in May for the construction of the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine, located on 27 acres at Chaffee Crossing. Helping to drive the combined totals higher in 2015 was a more than 30% increase in commercial construction permitted in Fort Smith and a large construction project at Greenwood High School.
For the year, the combined permit value in the three cities was $225.708 million, up 13.46% compared to 2014 and up 11.55% compared to 2013.
FORT SMITH CONSTRUCTION IN 2015
Permit values totaled $191.369 million in 2015, up 9.82% compared to the $198.983 million permitted in 2014. The city issued a total of 1,956 permits in 2015, down from 2,117 in 2014.
Again, leading the pace was commercial construction which was up 30.4% compared to 2014. Permits for new commercial construction totaled $94.453 million, more than double the $43.259 million in 2014. In addition to the $22 million for the osteopathic college, other large commercial projects permitted in 2015 include:
• $4.5 million investment by Magellan Pipeline at its fuel terminal at 8101 U.S. 71 South;
• $3.85 million for the Burlington Coat Factory store at 5721 Rogers Ave.;
• $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;
• $1.522 million for work at Sparks Health System; and
• $1.4 million for work at Mercy Fort Smith.
Residential construction declined in 2015. Permit values for new home construction in Fort Smith was $27.571 million, down from $30.64 million in 2014. The city issued permits for 94 new home starts in 2015 compared to 134 in 2014.
Permit values for all residential construction totaled $37.947 million, down from $39.72 million in 2014.
GREENWOOD, VAN BUREN PERMIT TOTALS
Greenwood permits totaled $20.708 million, well ahead of the $7.918 million in 2014 thanks to a $9.446 million permit for work at Greenwood High School.
Also helping to boost Greenwood construction was a gain in new residential work. Permit values for new home starts in 2015 totaled $7.228 million on 27 projects, better than the $5.126 million on 22 projects in 2014.
Van Buren permit values reached $13.703 million in 2015, down from $16.813 million in 2014. The decline can be contributed to a $4 million Legacy Heights addition and $3.567 million Van Buren police station permitted in the first quarter of 2014.
Commercial construction permitted in Van Buren during 2015 totaled $5.989 million, well below that $12.608 million in 2014. However, the city’s residential activity recovered from a 2014 low not seen in several decades. New home starts in 2015 totaled $6.985 million for 46 projects, much better than that $3.796 million on 24 projects in 2014. Residential construction in the city has not returned to pre-recession levels when 2007 new home permits totaled $24.621 million on 136 projects.
REGIONAL BUILDING ACTIVITY RECAP
2015: $191.369 million
2014: $174.252 million
2013: $185.057 million
2012: $136.248 million
2015: $20.708 million
2014: $7.918 million
2013: $8.283 million
2012: $8.609 million
2015: $13.703 million
2014: $16.813 million
2013: $9.049 million
2012: $9.983 million
Combined total for the three cities
2015: $225.78 million
2014: $198.983 million
2013: $202.389 million
2012: $154.640 million
2011: $201.079 million
2010: $149 million
2009: $164 million