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Archive for Wednesday, July 17, 2002

A big June for building

New construction in Lawrence on pace to top $100 million for seventh straight year

July 17, 2002

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Boosted by a big apartment project, June checked in as the busiest month yet in 2002 for Lawrence builders.

Builders took out permits for construction projects valued at $20.34 million in June, according to a new city report. More than half that total $11.94 million was a 200-unit apartment complex in southwest Lawrence.

The Legends, on 24th Street between Inverness Drive and Crossgate Drive, was by far the largest project started in June. The apartment complex, which is on 17 acres, is designed exclusively to serve university students. Officials with San Antonio-based Callaway Development Co. have said the project should be completed by August 2003.

The $20 million in June construction starts was easily the biggest monthly total of the year, surpassing a $12.62 million total in May. It was an improvement from an $11.83 million total in June 2001.

The strong month also put Lawrence back on pace to build at least $100 million worth of new construction for the year, with $63.23 million worth of projects started during the first six months of the year. Lawrence has eclipsed the $100 million mark for six straight years.

"I think all signs are showing that the market is still real healthy around here," said David Reynolds, president of Apple Tree Homes. "The thing with the Lawrence market is it is very stable. Even in the late '80s and early '90s when the industry was in a cautious mode, we didn't struggle much."

Still, this year's building activity isn't keeping pace with last year, when $84.06 million worth of projects were started during the first half of the year. Barry Walthall, the city's code enforcement manager, said the difference of nearly $21 million was little cause for concern because 2001 was a record-setting year, with $175 million worth of projects.

"At this point, the numbers are right where they need to be," Walthall said.

Single-family housing is nearly on pace with last year. City officials have issued 151 single-family permits this year, down from 158 during the same period in 2001. For the month of June, builders took out permits for 32 single-family homes, up from 15 issued during June 2001.

In addition to the apartment construction, city officials issued permits for several other commercial projects in June, including a new $550,000 Applebee's restaurant at 3900 W. Sixth St., and a new $479,000 building for Kirk Welding Supply at 909 E. 29th St.

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