Construction is seeing another strong year in Lawrence, says the city's building inspector.
No, local construction this year is not going to top the 1996 mark. It's not even close.
"Last year was phenomenal," said Gene Shaughnessy, the city's chief building inspector, referring to the $167 million in building permits his office issued in 1996.
However, it does look like 1997 will turn out to be a strong year -- probably near $130 million by the end of the year, Shaughnessy said.
That would put 1997 still fairly high compared with the last few years, he said.
For example, the city issued $122.8 million in building permits in 1994, followed by $96.5 million in 1995.
"I would say it has been a very good year," Shaughnessy said, looking over computer printouts of the building permits his office has processed through October.
"We're at $99 million, with two months to go," Shaughnessy said.
He was expecting to write a permit sometime soon for the new Douglas County Health Department building, expected to be in the $13 million to $15 million range.
"'97 may not be a record year," he said. "But it's been a strong year in the city overall whether it be residential or commercial."
One of the big differences in the two years is that the 1996 building permits included Free State High School, a $20 million project, plus several major commercial projects and a host of new apartment buildings that brought in a total of 842 units.
"We had a zillion new apartments come in last year," Shaughnessy said. "I think there's a lot of apartments in Lawrence, so this year you're not going to see that many."
So far through October this year, there have been only six permits issued for apartment buildings, totaling 48 units, he said.
The number of permits issued for single family homes is also down from last year. Through October, there have been 301 permits issued, compared with 338 through the same period last year.
In October, there were 29 single-family permits issued. The biggest month for those permits this year was April, when 49 permits were issued.
Part of the reason that single-family permits is down is a decrease in available lots, he said.
Still, the valuation for single-family permits issued is $2.5 million so far, he said. This year has also brought $19.2 million in new office buildings.
One of the major public buildings that received a permit this year was for the new $15 million Douglas County jail.
-- Dave Toplikar's phone message number is 832-7151. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.