Builders in Lawrence had their busiest month in more than three years and are off to their best start since 1996, according to figures recently released by city building inspectors.
Projects totaling $32.3 million were begun in April, according to building permit figures. The monthly total was the highest since September 2000, when builders started $52 million worth of projects.
The April total pushed the amount of projects started in 2003 to $58.2 million. That's up from $30.1 million during the same period a year ago. The last time builders in the city had started more than $55 million in projects during the first four months of the year was in 1996, when starts totaled $73.2 million.
Builders largely have one project to thank for this year's fast start: Serologicals Corp. began $18.5 million worth of work in April on its $28 million biopharmaceutical plant in the East Hills Business Park.
The plant, which will employ 40 people at an average salary of $47,000 per year, will manufacture a key ingredient used by several drug-making companies. The facility is scheduled to open during the first half of 2004.
Even without the Serologicals project, Lawrence builders had a busy month. Single-family home construction was at it highest point for the year with 33 new homes started in April. That's up from 30 in March and 26 in April 2002. For the year, 104 new homes have been started, the largest four-month total since 2000.
Duplex construction also had its strongest month of the year. Builders began 25 duplex units, up from six in March. Grand Construction started seven units, totaling $840,000, in the 2700 block of Coralberry Court. Other large duplex projects included five units, totaling $904,000, in the 4100 block of West 26th Terrace, and Steve Eudaly Construction with four units, totaling $584,000, in the 4000 block of Mistletoe Court.
Other large projects that builders began in April included:
- $750,000 for a gasoline station near the Home Depot and Best Buy development at 31st and Iowa streets.
- $821,000 for a hangar project at the Lawrence Municipal Airport.
- $100,000 for the Tanner's Bar & Grill, 1540 Wakarusa Drive.
- $18,000 for The Cup, a frozen custard and coffee shop adjacent to the Hy-Vee Food and Drug Store at 4000 W. Sixth Street.