Fort Smith metro building permit values up almost 10% in 2020

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 749 views 

The three largest cities in the Fort Smith metro ended the year with $264.757 million in permitted building activity, a 9.52% increase over the 2019’s 241.741 million and a 14.2% increase from 2018’s $231.78 million, continuing the trend of the region steadily increasing building activity since 2017.

That gain came mostly from Fort Smith, as Van Buren, the region’s second largest city, and Greenwood showed drops in their building numbers from 2019.

December stayed steady with the rest of the year but the monthly totals were lower than those in December in 2019, a trend that followed November. The region recorded $19.057 million in permitted activity, compared to $53.358 million in December 2019 – a 64% decrease. The month came in 91.7% higher than the combined value of $9.94 million of building permits issued in Fort Smith, Van Buren and Greenwood in November.

For the year, Fort Smith was up from the previous year with $234.165 million against $204.285 million in 2019. That 14.6% jump makes the year the best performing year in the past decade. The city has consistently surpassed 2019’s building numbers throughout the year, though activity dropped below 2019’s numbers in the later months.

Fort Smith issued 167 permits in December with a value of $17.47 million, a 97% increase over the $8.83 million value of the 167 permits issued in November. That value was 66% lower than the $51.492 million value of 162 permits issued in December 2019 when construction began on Southside High School’s new addition, which should be completed this summer.

The city issued two permits for new construction during the month – the largest for a $1.768 million new restaurant on Phoenix Avenue, across from Mercy Orthopedic Hospital. Blue Ember Smokehouse, located at 8000 Phoenix Ave., is being developed by Prime Restaurant Group LLC, with construction by C.R. Crawford Construction. The 5,000-square-foot building will have dining for 140.

Residential building showed 13 permits issued in the city for new construction in December with a $4.05 million value, which was up 114% from the $1.89 million value of new residential construction permits issued in November but down 17.35% from the $4.9 million value of new residential construction permits issued in December 2019.

For the year, new commercial construction permits accounted for $71.949 million with some of the notable projects including the $20.6 million new Mercy Rehab Hospital at 6700 Chad Colley Blvd.; $18.69 million for renovation and addition to Northside High School; $2.97 million new Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar at 4306 Phoenix Ave.; $15.7 million new Veterans Affairs stand-alone clinic at 5700 Phoenix Ave.; and Crain Kia’s new $4.4 million new Crain Kia at 6700 Auto Park Drive. New residential construction came in at $32.03 million for the year.

The city issued 426 commercial permits in 2020 with a total value of $157.602 million, a 42% increase compared with $110.732 million on 422 commercial permits issued in 2019, said Jimmie Deer, director of building services for the City of Fort Smith.

“Based on the number and size of the projects permitted, I think even with (the COVID-19 pandemic) and the permit desk being relocated to first floor, city staff stepped up and met every challenge to meet the needs of the citizens, contractors, developers and designers in 2020 to insure permits were reviewed, issued and inspections conducted. Overall, I feel it was a great year for the developers and citizens of Fort Smith,” Deer said.

Van Buren issued permits in December with a total value of $1.491 million, a 47.8% increase over the $1.008 million value on 49 permits issued in December 2019 and a 173% gain from the 65 permits valued at $546,150 issued in November. The strong month was not enough to pull the city ahead for the year. Van Buren’s yearly permitted activity is $20.569 million, a 27% decrease from $28.221 million issued in 2020.

Greenwood issued 18 permits valued at $100,250 in December, down 82% from the $560,523 value of 23 permits in November and down 88.3% from the $856,689 value of nine permits issued in December 2019. For the year, Greenwood issued building permits valued at $7.99 million, a 13.48% decrease from the $9.235 million permitted valuations reported in 2019.

REGIONAL BUILDING ACTIVITY RECAP
Combined total for the three cities
2020: $264.757 million
2019: $241.741 million
2018: $231.780 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

Fort Smith
2020: $234.165 million
2019: $204.285 million
2018: $187.678 million
2017: $169.958 million
2016: $185.783 million
2015: $191.631 million

Van Buren
2020: $20.569 million
2019: $28.221 million
2018: $37.946 million
2017: $19.665 million
2016: $15.327 million
2015: $16.009 million

Greenwood
2020: $7.990 million
2019: $9.235 million
2018: $6.156 million
2017: $15.23 million
2016: $10.235 million
2015: $11.259 million