First quarter building permit values down more than 38% in Fort Smith metro

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 478 views 

Building activity in the Fort Smith region dropped in March bringing the total for the first quarter in at more than 38% lower than the first quarter of 2020. Fort Smith building permit values fell almost 60% compared with March 2020.

The Fort Smith metro area’s three biggest cities had $19.879 million in March building permits, a 12.8% drop from the $22.797 million reported in February, marking the second month in a row for declining building numbers. February’s activity was 11.1% down from January. The March total was 55.7% lower than the $44.829 million reported in March 2020. Year-to-date building activity is valued at $64.29 million, a 38.2% drop from $104.05 million for the first quarter of 2020.

Fort Smith issued 205 permits in March with a value of $17.06 million, a 2% decrease from the $17.42 million value of the 108 permits issued in February. The value was a 59.1% decrease from the $41.74 million value on 168 permits in March 2020.

The city issued 4 permits for new commercial construction during the month with a total value of $2.86 million, up 128.8% from the $1.25 million on three new commercial projects in February and down 84.7% from the $18.69 million in new commercial projects permitted in March 2020.

New construction for the month includes a new First Security Bank at 7613 Rogers Ave. The project, valued at $1.87 million, is being built by Crawford Construction Co. Searcy-based First Security Bank opened its first office in the Fort Smith metro Oct. 2 on the second floor of what was once the Fort Smith Town Club at 720 Garrison Ave. in downtown Fort Smith. The first floor of that location is the home of The Rialto Restaurant. Privately-held First Security Bancorp has 78 Arkansas locations and more than 1,000 employees.

On the residential side, Fort Smith issued 16 permits for new construction in March with a $3.5 million value, up 95.6% from the $1.8 million value on 7 permits issued in February and down 26.8% from the $4.81 million value in new residential construction permits issued in March 2020.

Fort Smith’s building activity for the first quarter totals $53.09 million, down 42.8% from $92.84 million in the first three months of 2020.

Van Buren, the region’s second largest city, issued 83 permits in March with a total value of $2.01 million, a 61.8% drop from the $5.26 million value of the 52 permits issued in February and a 21.2% decrease from the $2.55 million value of 74 permits issued in March 2020. The monthly activity included $1.48 million in residential building, down 48.8% from the $2.89 million in residential building in February and 26.4% from the $2.01 million in residential building in March 2020. There was $517,000 in commercial building activity in the month, down 77.9% from the $2.34 million in commercial building activity in February, and up 18.9% from the $435,000 in commercial construction in March 2020.

Van Buren’s permit totals for the first three months of 2021 were $9.14 million, down 10.7% from the $10.23 million in building activity in the first quarter of 2020.

Greenwood continues to have a strong construction year, issuing 17 permits in March with a value of $806,976, up significantly from the $122,520 issued value of nine permits issued in February and 47.9% from the $539,077 value of five permits issued in March 2020. Through the first quarter of the year, Greenwood has had $2.069 million in building activity, up 110.9% from the $981,031 in the first three months of 2020.

The region ended 2020 with $264.757 million in permitted building activity, a 9.52% increase over the $241.741 million in 2019. The gain came mostly from Fort Smith, as Van Buren and Greenwood showed drops in their building numbers from 2019.

REGIONAL BUILDING ACTIVITY RECAP
Combined total for the three cities
2020: $264.757 million
2019: $241.741 million
2018: $231.78 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: $7.99 million
2019: $9.235 million
2018: $6.156 million
2017: $15.23 million
2016: $10.235 million
2015: $11.259 million

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