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Archive for Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Lawrence building continues $9 million monthly pace

August 13, 2003

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Another month brought another $9 million worth of new building projects in Lawrence.

Lawrence builders started construction projects valued at $9.69 million in July, according to a report from the city's building inspections department.

The total was up from $9.15 million worth of projects started in June, $9.58 million started in May and $9.08 million started in March.

Lawrence builders have been nothing but consistent in 2003. In six of the year's seven months, Lawrence building totals have been between $6 million and $10 million. The lone exception was April, when work began on a biotech manufacturing plant for Serologicals Corp. at East Hills Business Park. The $18 million project pushed monthly building totals to $32 million.

"The highlight of the year has obviously been the Serologicals project, but other than that, residential construction and everything else seems to be pretty ordinary," said Barry Walthall, codes enforcement manager for the city.

The string of ho-hum numbers, though, have added up to a decent building year thus far, Walthall said. Lawrence builders have started $86.69 million in building projects through July, up about 5 percent from the $82 million in projects started during the same period a year ago.

The $86 million mark puts the city on pace to have its second-best building year in the past five years, falling behind only 2001, when $94 million worth of projects had been started.

Single-family housing construction also was ahead of last year's pace. Builders have started 187 homes, up about 8 percent from the 173 started through the first seven months of 2002. The numbers are on pace to make 2003 the third best year for single-family construction in the past five years, trailing 1999 and 2000.

"I think it is just because we're a desirable place to live and it seems like the developers do a pretty good job of keeping a steady supply of lots to build on," Walthall said.

In July, builders started 31 new homes, the second-highest monthly total of the year. The number was well above the 22 started in June and the 27 started in July 2002.

Builders started 8 duplex projects in July, down from 11 in June and 10 in July 2002. For the year, 59 duplex projects have been started, up about 9 percent from 54 started a year ago.

The month produced several large business construction projects. Topping the list was a $2 million remodeling of the former Kmart building at 31st and Iowa streets. Developers of the property have announced that a Bed Bath & Beyond store will occupy part of the building, along with three other retailers that have not yet been named.

Other large projects included an $850,000 Longhorn Steakhouse adjacent to the Home Depot/Best Buy development at 31st and Iowa streets, and a $150,000 remodeling of the Verizon Wireless store at 23rd and Iowa streets.

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