Fort Smith, Greenwood, and Van Buren building permits totaled $480.376 million in 2022, almost $140 million more than the $343.289 million in 2021. The 39.9% increase sets a significantly higher new record for the regional metric, with all three cities posting healthy gains.
Building activity has continued to gain steadily in the past few years, with 2022’s totals up 80.6% over 2020’s $265.975 million.
All three of the larger cities in the Fort Smith region saw an increase in building numbers from 2021, although in December only Van Buren saw increases from December 2021. The region recorded $34.754 million in permitted activity in December, down 1% from the $35.09 million in December 2021 permits. The month came in 8.1% higher than the combined value of $32.153 million in building permit values issued by Fort Smith, Van Buren and Greenwood in November.
FORT SMITH GROWTH
Fort Smith issued 274 permits in December with a value of $26.742 million, up 33.8% from the $19.982 million value of 387 permits issued in November but down 10.62% from the $29.92 million value of 157 permits issued in December 2021.
There were 13 permits issued for new residential construction in December with a value of $2.828 million, down 25.5% from the $3.798 million value of nine new residential construction permits issued in November and down 10.4% from the $3.155 million value of 18 new residential permits issued in December 2021.
For the year, the city issued 171 permits for new single-family homes with a combined value of $38.652 million, a 6.24% increase from the $36.382 combined value of 177 new single-family construction projects permitted in 2021. The average cost of a newly built single-family house in Fort Smith in 2022 was $226,035, compared to $205,548 in 2021.
There were 39 permits issued for new construction of duplexes in 2022 with a value of $13.094 million, up 38% $13.045 million total value of 70 permits issued in 2021.
There were six permits for new commercial construction in December with a value of $14.267 million, eight times more than the $1.679 million value of one new commercial construction permit issued in November but down 9.4% from the $15.75 million value of 18 permits issued in December 2021.
Included in the construction permits were a $2.812 million new automotive repair facility at 6600 31st St., issued to Cross Investments, $3.2 million permit issued to Mercy Medical for a new primary care facility at 4600 Towson Ave., and a $7.13 million permit issued to Compass Realty and Construction Group for a new affordable housing complex at 3816 N. 43rd St.
Fort Smith issued 40 permits for new commercial construction in 2022 with a value of $107.435 million, up 55.7% from the $68.98 million value of 33 new commercial construction projects permitted in 2021.
“I believe that it is steady growth, and I feel that Fort Smith is on the upswing,” said Jimmie Deer, director of building services. “With a more positive attitude about Fort Smith and with the (possible) future training activity at the airbase and the existing factory’s adding new jobs, I foresee more growth in the next few years.”
For the year, Fort Smith had $360.381 million in permitted activity, up 22.5% compared with the $294.279 million in 2021.
VAN BUREN, GREENWOOD GAINS
Van Buren, the region’s second largest city, had a huge year in 2022. The city issued $105.136 million in building permits in the past 12 months, a 173% increase from the $38.56 million issued in 2021.
Part of that growth is from a $100 million Simmons Foods addition to its plant at 2101 Twin Circle in Van Buren, which will add 100 jobs, bringing total employment at the plant to 700. David Martin, building official for Van Buren, also said part of the growth also can be attributed to people moving from out of state or living in the area and working in Northwest Arkansas.
The city issued 80 permits in December with a value of $7.729 million, a 9.8% decrease from the $11.017 million value of 64 permits issued in November, but a 64.6% increase from the $4.696 million value of 63 permits issued in December 2021.
The city issued eight permits for residential construction with a combined value of $837,000 in the month, up 188.6% from the $290,000 in residential permits issued in November and up 28.8% from the $650,000 value of six residential building permits issued in December 2021.
There were two commercial construction permits with a value of $6.845 million in December, a $35.1% decrease from the $10.55 million value of three permits issued in November but a 75.5% increase from the $3.9 million value of five permits issued in December 2021. Among the permits issued was a $6.2 million permit for construction of new indoor football/soccer practice field at Blakemore Field at 2201 Alma Blvd. The field underwent $4.216 million in renovation and new construction in 2021.
Greenwood issued nine permits in December with a combined value of $283,364, down 75.4% from the $1.154 million combined value of 11 permits issued in November, and down 40.7% from the $477,841 value of eight permits issued in December 2021. The city’s 2022 permitted building total is 40.7% higher than the $10.45 million in permitted activity in 2021.
REGIONAL BUILDING ACTIVITY RECAP
Combined total for the three cities
2022: $480.376 million
2021: $343.289 million
2020: $265.975 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