News and notes from around town.
• Consider Lawrence’s real estate industry only partially stimulated. The federal stimulus program that offered homebuyers several financial tax credits did produce healthy months for Lawrence real estate sales early in 2010. But for the entire year, new numbers show that real estate sales fell by 1.1 percent. The Lawrence Board of Realtors reports 1,239 sales were made by its members in 2010, down from 1,253 in 2009. The numbers also are down from 2008 totals when 1,286 homes were sold.
Although sales were a tad weaker, prices were a tad higher in 2010. The median sale price in 2010 was $158,000, up from $155,000 in 2009. The median price is down from 2008 totals, when it was $159,900. The number of days it took to sell a home in 2010 also declined slightly. The median days on the market was 44 days in 2010, down from 47 in 2009 and well below the 61 days in 2008. The number of days that new homes sat on the market also went down to 73 days compared to 110 in 2009 and 156 in 2008.
But perhaps the most interesting statistic is that sales of newly built homes did increase in 2010. Builders sold 115 new homes, up from 96 in 2009. That’s an increase of 19.7 percent. That won’t qualify 2010 for a hall-of-fame type of year, but it is not bad considering that sales of new homes plummeted in 2009. They dropped by 26.7 percent in 2009. The median selling price of new homes also increased slightly in 2010. The median was $229,822, up from 225,725 in 2009.
• Signs of cautious optimism by contractors also showed up in the city’s building permit totals. The city issued 152 building permits for single family and duplexes in 2010. That’s up 23 percent from 2009’s total of 126. It also is up from the total of 114 in 2008. Apartment construction also was up. The city added 220 apartment units in 2010, up from 172 in 2009.
Overall, the city issued building permits for $101.8 million worth of projects. That was up from $75.3 million in 2009, but down from $146.5 million in 2008.
Here’s a look at the 10 largest construction projects of 2010:
• $9.45 million for a new Lawrence retirement center at Sixth and Folks Road;
• $7.99 million for a new seven-story apartment, office and retail building at Ninth and New Hampshire.
• $5.5 million for a first-floor remodel of Lawrence Memorial Hospital;
• $4.86 million for the first phase to rebuild the former Boardwalk Apartments at 546 Frontier Road;
• $2.9 million for a city and Kansas University transit facility at 1260 Timberedge Road;
• $2.34 million for a new city pump station at 3820 Greenway Circle;
• $1.6 million for a new Orscheln’s store at 1541 E. 23rd St.;
• $1.48 million for Deciphera Pharmaceuticals' new office and laboratory space on the upper floors of 643-647 Mass.
• $1.44 million city pump station expansion at 3613 Brush Creek Drive;
• $1.43 million for the city’s Carnegie Library expansion at Ninth and Vermont;
• The jury is still out on whether Lawrence residents have become better sidewalk snow shovelers. The city last winter issued about 200 tickets to people who failed to clear their portion of public sidewalks in a timely manner. It was the city’s first big enforcement push for the ordinance.
Well, Part II has arrived. Under the ordinance, which gives property owners 48 hours following the end of a snowstorm to clear sidewalks, snow should have been removed by 8 a.m. Thursday. Brian Jimenez, the city employee who oversees the program, said complaints have started to come in. He estimated Friday morning that inspectors now have a list of about 100 addresses where people have complained that snow has not been removed. How that compares to last winter is a little tough to say because last winter we were inundated with snow.
“Last year was really just a blur,” said Jimenez, who is the city’s codes enforcement manager. “We just had such a steady number of complaints coming in last year.
In total, the city received about 790 complaints last year. Jimenez said inspectors are now out checking out properties that have been called in. If the city determines the sidewalk hasn’t been shoveled, a citation will be sent to the property owner via the mail. (In case you are wondering, the city does make exceptions for sidewalks that have been covered up by their snow plows.) The fine is $20 per day, plus courts costs.