Van Buren building permits see big gain in November, regional permit values down almost 13% year-to-date

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 635 views 

Building activity in the Fort Smith area recovered a bit in October but year-to-date activity remains below numbers from 2018. Fort Smith, Van Buren and Greenwood issued $15.38 million in building permits in November, down 51% from the $31.214 million issued in November 2018.

Year-to-date building activity for the region is $190.465 million, down 12.87% from 2018’s permitted activity of $218.596 million for the same period.

Fort Smith’s building activity slowed even more in November than it had in October. October’s permits dropped 27.9% from September. November followed suit, dropping 39% from October. For the month, the region’s largest city issued 143 permits for a total value of $6.89 million, a 27.9% decrease from the $11.346 million valued on the 217 permits issued in October and a 77.7% decrease from the $30.872 million value of 132 permits issued in October 2018. November 2018 had a big boost from the U.S. Marshals Museum, which broke ground on its $19 million facility that month.

The strong residential growth in late summer dropped along with temperatures. November saw a mere $653,615 in permitted activity in new residential construction, a drop of 76% from October’s total of $2.696 million October and down 72.9% from 2018’s $2.381 million in residential new construction.

Fort Smith issued one permit for new construction in the commercial sector in November. That was for a $1.35 million project for a new Andy’s Frozen Custard at 6565 Roger Ave. This is up 170% from $500,000 on two new commercial construction projects in October. But thanks to the U.S. Marshals Museum and a couple of other commercial projects, November’s new commercial permits is well below the $19.85 million issued on new construction projects in November 2018.

Andy’s Frozen Custard is expected to open in the first part of 2020. The frozen custard show March 1986 in Osage Beach, Mo., by John and Carol Kuntz. Over the years, franchises for the Springfield, Mo.-based business have popped up from Arizona to North Carolina and Illinois to Florida. There are seven stores in Arkansas – two in Rogers, one in Fayetteville, two in Conway and two in Jonesboro, according to the company’s website.

Van Buren, the region’s second-largest city, helped keep the region at least somewhat on track in November. It received a huge boost with the new Center for Art and Education obtaining its permit to start on the $5.8 million renovations at 415 Main St. that will become the organization’s new home. Ground was broken on that project in late November, and CAE Executive Director Jane Owen said they should be in the location in 2021.

Van Buren issued 40 permits in November totaling $6.085 million, up 470% from October’s total of $1.067 million on 50 permits and not even comparable to November 2018. November 2018 saw permits issued on 24 projects totaling only $162,000.

Van Buren’s November value included $244,400 on 5 residential permits and $5.805 million on two commercial permits. For the first 11 months of 2019, Van Buren stands at $22.722 million in permitted building activity, down 32% from the $33.504 million in the same period of 2018.

Greenwood issued one permit in November for $23,000, which put the month down 97.8% from October, when the city issued eight permits with a total valuation of $1.025 million. Greenwood has issued $8.171 million in building permits so far this year, up 40.4% from the $5.822 million in the same time period of 2018.

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