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Archive for Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Lawrence construction activity picking up pace

April 13, 2004

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The Lawrence construction industry is starting to show signs of growth.

March was the busiest month for Lawrence builders in 2004, according to a new city report.

City building inspectors issued permits for $13.75 million worth of projects in March, up from $3.02 million in February and $9.08 million in March 2003.

Single-family housing starts also hit their highest total of the year, with 47 permits issued. That's up from seven in February and 30 in March 2003.

Gale Lantis, an owner of Lawrence-based Mar Lan Construction, said area building totals still seemed less than stellar.

"It is just generally a little slow," Lantis said. "It is not terribly slow, but it has been a little sluggish in getting started."

For the year, city officials have issued permits for $22 million worth of construction, which is down from $25.8 million issued during the first three months of 2003. It also is below the five-year average of $29.5 million.

Lantis said the March building permit totals weren't quite as strong as they appeared. His company took out a permit for a $3.17 million expansion project at the St. Lawrence Catholic Center, the biggest permit of the month, but construction hasn't started. That's because the church's fund-raising committee is still gathering money for the two-story addition at the center, 1631 Crescent Road. A construction date hasn't been set.

Several other large projects did get started in March. A permit was issued for $1.8 million worth of expansion work at Amarr Garage Doors, which announced late last year that it would expand its manufacturing capacity and add about 80 jobs at its East Hills Business Park plant.

About $114,000 worth of remodeling work also began at the former Total Fitness Athletic Center, 2339 Iowa. Ralph Wing, an agent with Kansas City, Mo.-based Block & Co., said a tenant hadn't been found for the vacant 23,000-square-foot building. The company installed a new sprinkler system and improved the interior.

Wing said the company was marketing the building to fitness clubs and other service-oriented companies.

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