Fort Smith metro building permit values down almost 21% in the first half of 2019

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 580 views 

Residential construction work at Chaffee Crossing in east Fort Smith.

Building permit values in Fort Smith, Greenwood and Van Buren jumped significantly during June, but totals for the first six months of the year fell short of 2018 and 2017 for the region as a whole.

Building permit values in the three cities combined for a total of $25.736 million in June, up 124% increase from the $11.475 million reported in June 2018, and a 140% increase from the region’s May total of $10.729 million.

But the large boost for the month still does not get the year-to-date numbers to the level of 2018. The first six months of 2019 saw total permit values at $90.813 million — a 20.9% decrease from the $114.823 million of the same six months of 2018 and an 8.6% decline from the $99.528 million in the first six months of 2017.

Fort Smith issued 229 building permits in June for a total value of $22.366 million, up more than 136% from May’s $9.45 million and up 118% from the $10.239 million in June 2019. School construction and rebuilding from tornado and flood damage are two key components of June’s massive leap in construction.

Following are some of the big projects permitted in June.
• $3.676 million for work at 901-911 Garrison Avenue in downtown Fort Smith. Property owners Steve Clark, Rodney Ghan, Darrell Robinson and Phil White are renovating older structures into new retail, restaurant and living space.
• $2.21 million for repair and renovation work on Sykes operation and the Professional Building in the former Phoenix Village Mall property.
• $2.208 million for extensive dirt work at 8210 Phoenix Avenue, which is the southwest corner of the intersection Phoenix and Massard.
• $1.177 million for renovation at Morrison Elementary School on Newlon Road.

However, the city will not generate income from building permits and fees for reconstruction of residences and business damaged during the record flooding of the Arkansas River in May. The Fort Smith Board of Directors waived all city fees related to the rebuilding of structures affected by May’s historic flooding of the Arkansas River during its regular board meeting July 2. The unanimously approved resolution waives any fees related to building permits or city building inspections associated with repairs to residential or commercial structures damaged during the 2019 flood.

Building permit and inspection fees provide revenue to the city’s general fund and are used to offset the city’s expenses for such things as personnel, operations and equipment needed to perform building safety inspections during construction or renovation. Waiving the fees will affect the costs to the general fun without offsetting revenues, Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman said in a memo explaining the ordinance. That cost to the city is estimated to be approximately $40,000, Dingman said.

There was only one new construction commercial permit issued in June — the $2.208 million for work at 8210 Phoenix Ave. by Chambers Bank, but that is a 181% increase from the $786,000 in commercial new construction issued in May.

Total new residential construction in Fort Smith during June generated $8.23 million in permit balues, which includes $2.579 million for phase one of University Park Plaza at Chaffee Crossing that has been generating new residential building permits for the past three months. This is a 24.7% increase from May’s new residential construction total of $6.6 million.

Van Buren, the region’s second largest city, was up 98% from May. The city issued 42 permits in June totaling $1.827 million. This includes $1.45 million in commercial construction and $377,000 in residential construction. The city issued 64 permits in May totaling $920,804, including $42,899 for commercial construction and $822,800 for residential construction. The city’s June numbers are up almost 50% from $1.22 million in June 2018. For the year, Van Buren stands at $7.12 million in building activity, down 49.2% from the $14.009 million reported through the first six months of 2018.

Greenwood also is up from last month with three permits totaling $1.543 million. The city issued five permits totaling $357,700 in May. The jump in permit value for the past 30 days is significant from the previous month, but is down almost 23% from June 2018’s $1.998 million. Still, for the first half of the year, the city is ahead of 2018. Greenwood has issued $4.777 million in permitting activity the first six months of this year, up 16.7% from the $4.092 million the city issued in the same time frame in 2018.

Combined total for the three cities
2018: $211.463 million
2017: $210.844 million
2016: $211.345 million
2015: $218.899 million
2014: $198.983 million
2013: $202.389 million
2012: $154.64 million
2011: $201.079 million
2010: $149 million
2009: $164 million

Fort Smith
2018: $187.678 million
2017: $169.958 million
2016: $185.783 million
2015: $191.631 million
2014: $174.252 million
2013: $185.057 million
2012: $136.248 million

Van Buren
2018: $17.629 million
2017: $19.665 million
2016: $15.327 million
2015: $16.009 million
2014: $7.918 million
2013: $8.283 million
2012: $8.609 million

2018: $6.156 million
2017: $15.23 million
2016: $10.235 million
2015: $11.259 million
2014: $16.813 million
2013: $9.049 million
2012: $9.983 million

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