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Lawrence homebuilding numbers in 2012 bounce back to second highest level in last five years


Maybe a new streak is about to begin.

Last year at this time we were reporting how the Lawrence homebuilding industry had hit a new low. In 2011, Lawrence builders saw their streak of at least 55 years in a row of building 100 homes or more snapped. Builders started just 95 single-family homes in Lawrence in 2011.

Well, the old hammer had a little bounce back in 2012. Almost 95 percent of the time when a hammer bounces back, it involves a large bandage on my forehead. But this time a bounce back is good. Builders in 2012 started 123 single-family building permits.

In fact, the 123 housing starts is the second highest total in the last five years. The city had dipped to 102 single-family housing starts in 2008, and 110 in 2009. The only year the homebuilding industry seemed to have any positive momentum was in 2010, when a first-time homebuyers credit helped perk the market up temporarily. The city had 146 single-family housing starts that year.

The last five years have been kind of like a two-by-four to the head for most homebuilders. (That reminds me of another home improvement project I did once, but for some reason, I’m hazy on the details.) The city used to routinely be near 300 single-family housing permits per year, and on a few occasions topped the 400 level. Those days are gone, but nobody is ready to concede yet that 100 to 125 housing starts per year is the new normal for Lawrence.

What 2013 brings for the industry will be interesting to watch. I would think this is the year that builders may believe they can get back to that level of 150 housing starts in a year. If somehow they could get to 200, everybody would breath a lot easier.

As for other numbers from the city’s 2012 building permit report, here’s a look:

• The city issued permits for $100.65 million worth of projects in 2012. That’s down from $107.76 million in 2011.

• One category of projects that saw a bump in 2012: Projects funded with public money. The city issued building permits for $8.97 million worth of publicly funded construction projects. That’s up from $7.96 million in 2011. Those projects can be projects funded with city tax dollars, construction at Lawrence Memorial Hospital or other smaller projects by government agencies. Generally, the project must involve some type of structure in order for it receive a building permit. The category, for example, doesn’t include road projects or waterline work. Indeed, the second largest project of the year was a publicly funded one: A $4.8 million permit for the new parking garage that will be next to the expanded Lawrence Public Library.

• The city issued permits for 184 apartment units in 2012, down from 355 in 2011. Two of the five largest dollar projects in the city, however, were apartment projects in 2011 — the Westfield Place Apartments in the 200 block of Eisenhower Drive, and the Varsity House Apartments in the Oread neighborhood.

• Permits for remodeling projects, both commercial and residential, grew in 2012. The city issued 345 remodeling permits, up from 317 in 2011.

• Even though the total value of projects constructed in Lawrence was down for the year, the city saw a slight increase in the amount of building permit fees in collected in 2012. That’s in large part because the city saw an increase in the total number of permits applied for during the year. The city collected $735,564 in building permit fees, up from $705,173 in 2011.

There were 17 building projects in the city that had a value of $1 million or more in 2012. Here’s a look:

• Westfield Place Apartments, 204 Eisenhower Drive: $8.32 million

• Public Parking Garage, 707 Vermont St.: $4.8 million

• Theatre Lawrence building, 4660 Bauer Farm Drive: $4 million

• Varsity House Apartments, 1043 Indiana St.: $3.98 million

• Del Monte Addition, 727 N. Iowa St.: $1.9 million

• Briggs Dodge remodel, 2300 W. 29th Terrace: $1.64 million

• LMH North Wing remodel, 325 Maine: $1.5 million

• Raintree Montessori School addition, 4601 Clinton Parkway: $1.4 million

• Hy-Vee convenience store, 3900 W. 24th Place: $1.4 million

• Advantage Metal Recycling, 1545 N. Third St.: $1.3 million

• Retail shell building for Papa Murphy’s and others, 650 Congressional Drive: $1.3 million

• Kia of Lawrence addition, 1225 E. 23rd St.: $1.25 million

• Briggs Nissan, 2300 W. 29th Terrace: $1.2 million

• Single-family dwelling, 1714 Lake Alvamar Drive: $1.1 million

• Single-family dwelling, 133 Running Ridge Road: $1 million

• Retail shell building for Starbucks and others, 4701 Bauer Farm Drive: $1 million.

• St. John School addition, 1208 Kentucky St.: $1 million.


sherbert 5 years, 5 months ago

Luckily, looks like these are almost entirely commercial projects, business must be looking up!

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