Building activity in the Fort Smith metro area dropped drastically in May with the area’s three biggest cities reporting a combined $12.95 million in building permit values for the month. While that is only 4.57% less than the $13.57 million reported in May 2020, it is 81% lower than the $68.73 million value of April’s building permits.
The slower month did not help the region’s year-to-date numbers compare to those from last year. While Van Buren and Greenwood are showing stronger building activity than 2020, the region’s year-to-date total of $145.98 million is down 4.34% from the $152.6 million value of building permits recorded through the end of May 2020.
Fort Smith issued 151 permits in May with a value of $8.53 million, down 7.8% from the $9.26 million value of the 161 permits issued in May 2020 and down 86.3% from the $62.47 million value of 176 permits issued by the city in April.
Fort Smith did not issue any permits for new commercial construction in May. By comparison, the city issued three permits for new commercial construction in April with a value of $7.52 million, and new commercial construction permits in May 2020 had a value of $2.695 million. While there were no permits issued for new construction, there was a permit issued May 26 for a $3.13 million remodel of the Walmart Supercenter at 2425 Zero St.
A social media post about a Buc-ee’s convenience store opening in Fort Smith in May 2022 brought a lot of chatter in the later part of the month, but according to the chain’s website, Fort Smith is not a planned store location. The chain, which was founded by Don Wasek and Arch “Beaver” Aplin, opened its first store in Lake Jackson, Texas, in 1982. It has locations in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina. Additional openings are planned later this year in Calhoun Ga., in 2022 in South Carolina and Kentucky, in 2023 in Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama, and in 2024 in South Carolina. The privately held company is based in Texas and does not offer franchises, according to its website.
On the residential side, Fort Smith issued three permits for new construction with a value of $508,300, down 79.7% from the $2.514 value of nine permits for new home construction in April and down 67.4% from the $1.56 million value in new residential construction permits issued in May 2020.
Fort Smith’s building activity for the first five months of the year totals $124.09 million, down 8.62% from the $135.8 million in the first five months of 2020.
VAN BUREN, GREENWOOD TOTALS
Van Buren, the region’s second largest city, issued 87 permits in May with a value of $2.78 million, a 44% drop from the $4.97 million value of 63 permits issued in April but a 124% increase from the $1.24 million value of 53 permits issued in May 2020. The monthly activity included $2.28 million in residential building, up 2.2% from the $2.23 million in residential building in April and up almost 90% from the $1.2 million in residential building in May 2020.
There was $440,000 in commercial building activity in the month, down 83% from the $2.64 million in commercial activity last month. There were commercial building permits issued in May 2020.
Van Buren’s permit totals through May were $16.89 million, 32.68% higher than the $12.73 million in building activity through May 2020.
Greenwood issued 20 permits in May with a value of $1.642 million, a 27.98% increase from the $1.283 million on 20 permits issued in April but a 46.6% decrease from the $3.07 million value of 14 permits issued in May 2020. Through May, Greenwood has had $4.994 million in building activity, up 22.67% from the $4.071 million in building activity in the first five months of 2020.
The three cities 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