Jonesboro’s building permit numbers experienced a remarkable turnaround in 2018, according to figures released by the city. About $288 million in commercial and residential permits were issued last year, nearly double the number issued the previous year.
Mayor Harold Perrin of Jonesboro told Talk Business & Politics that numbers like these are hard to predict from year-to-year, but he’s pleased with how strong 2018 turned out in terms of permits issued.
“One or two big commercial projects can skew the numbers for a particular year. But, they tell a story of growth, particularly in residential which is steadily growing,” Perrin said. “We approved 12 subdivisions last year. Not all have begun building, but that’s 354 lots and we’ve been right at that number for at least four years. That’s not apartments, duplexes, or triplexes. That’s single-family homes.”
The figures in 2018 were better than the totals from 2016 ($209 million) and 2015 ($139 million).
Commercial permits fueled the surge. The city issued $198.94 million in commercial permits, a more than $100 million jump from the previous year. About $57.344 million in residential single family permits were issued, along with commercial alterations at $13.045 million. At least $12.771 million worth of multi-family building permits were filed along with $2.246 in commercial additions. A total of 676 permits were issued by the city during the year.
Two major commercial projects fueled the numbers. O’Reilly Hospitality Management, based in Springfield, Mo., is building a 202-bed Embassy Suites Hotel, a 40,000-square-foot Red Wolf Convention Center, and a Houlihan’s Restaurant. The project is expected to cost about $60 million.
Records from the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Arkansas Economic Development Commission show that O’Reilly previously said at least 430 jobs would be created directly or indirectly as part of the convention center project with a $44.418 million impact on the local economy. Of the estimated 430 jobs, 300 would be at the convention center with the rest coming from other sources. The project is slated to be completed this summer.
Another commercial project is the $137.5 million renovation at St. Bernards Hospital.
The first phase involved a revamp of the Ben E. Owens Cancer Treatment Center. It was completed in August 2016. The second phase, completed in the spring of 2018, was a $10 million revamp of the Heartcare Center.
The third phase involved the 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.
Tower construction and a reconfiguration of the emergency room/services department were expected to cost about $75 million. The fourth phase is 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. It is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Perrin doesn’t know if the city will set new building permit heights in 2019, but he thinks future growth will be fueled by housing developments.
“The future looks bright. We’re pleased with growth in all areas, especially the more restrictive multi-family requirements that will probably reduce the number of new apartments, but the ones we build will be more upscale,” he said.