Posts tagged with Building Permits
For Lawrence homebuilders, the rest of 2013 is gravy, or the icing on the cake, or the cherry on top, or . . . (No, I've got to quit before I eat my keyboard.)
The point is, with three months left in the year, Lawrence homebuilders already had built essentially the same number of houses as they did in all of 2012. The newest building report from Lawrence City Hall shows 122 single-family building permits had been issued through the end of September. For all of 2012, the city issued 123. Thus far, single-family home construction is up 35 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
When you add in duplex construction, the city already has surpassed the 2012 totals. Thus far the city has issued permits for 7 new duplexes compared to just three for all of 2012.
The big question now is whether construction totals will hit the $200 million mark for the year. That's a bit of a stretch goal, but with the latest permit the city has topped the $150 million mark. The city is at $153.4 million during the first nine months, which is up 103 percent for the same period a year ago.
Credit massive projects like Rock Chalk Park, the city's recreation center and the Lawrence Public Library expansion for a good portion of the increase. About 24 percent of all the construction activity in the city, measured by permit value, has been publicly funded projects. Just for comparison's sake, during the same time period in 2011 about 9 percent of all construction in the city was publicly funded and about 5 percent in 2012.
There have been some large private sector projects, though. The Marriott TownPlace Hotel at Ninth and New Hampshire is $13.8 million, the two apartment complexes west of Walmart on Sixth Street total about $17.5 million and renovation work to accommodate more production at the Hallmark Cards plant has totaled about $4.5 million.
We'll see how 2013 finishes and what's in store for 2014. I was surprised to hear a projection recently from an economist at Wichita State University that Lawrence home-building totals would be stagnant or decline slightly in 2014. The economist with the WSU Center for Real Estate told the Lawrence Board of Realtors last week that he thinks the new home construction market may slow a bit because banks are still hesitant to provide financing for homes built on speculation. We'll see.
In other news and notes from around town:
• There's a clear sign that at least one builder in town is expecting good things for the future. A-Team Home Improvement is investing in a new shop and headquarters space. Perhaps you have noticed a significant renovation underway at the old schoolhouse-looking building below the 23rd Street overpass across from Haskell Indian Nations University. A-Team Home Improvement has signed a lease to take over the 1,800-square-foot space at 506 E. 23rd St.
Alan Rector, owner of A-Team, said business has been going well and he jumped at the chance to put his formerly home-based business in a more visible location. Plans call for a good part of the building to be devoted to showroom space for kitchen, bath and other renovation products. Rector hopes to have the project finished by the end of the month.
The renovation project also is giving a bit of a facelift to one of the older buildings along 23rd Street. The building was a school decades ago. It was known as the India School.
• The building is owned by a group led by longtime Lawrence landlord George Paley. Paley has projects all over town, but one that is drawing attention is his plans for the former La Parrilla space at 815 Massachusetts St. (La Parrilla moved up the block, if you recall.) Paley tells me plans are moving along to bring a new restaurant into the space, but he said he's still not at liberty to tell me who the operators will be or what style of restaurant is planned. What I have heard from reliable sources is that a local operator will be involved, but the speculation that the space will house a new venture by Lawrence restaurateur Robert Krause is inaccurate. Perhaps we won't have to wait too much longer to find out. Work is underway at the site.
More LJWorld City Coverage
The buzz you've been hearing around Lawrence perhaps has been the hum of a power saw or the steady pounding of a hammer.
With half a year in the books, one of the emerging stories of the Lawrence economy is the solid year local builders are putting together. New numbers from City Hall show builders have started more single-family and duplex homes in 2013 than at any point since the recession. And when it comes to apartment construction, they're more than doubling their previous pace.
Here's a quick look at totals through June for three key metrics.
The total value of projects under construction in Lawrence through June is up 52 percent compared to the same period a year ago and up 94 percent compared to the low point of 2009.
• 2013: $75.1 million • 2012: $49.3 million • 2011: $49.8 million • 2010: $47.6 million • 2009: $38.7 million
Single family and duplex building permits are up 33 percent from the same time period a year ago and are up nearly 128 percent from their low point in 2009:
• 2013: 87 • 2012: 65 • 2011: 59 • 2010: 75 • 2009: 38
Apartment construction, which historically has been up and down, is going through a boom period. The number of apartment units under construction in the first half of 2013 is up 103 percent from the same time period a year ago:
• 2013: 374 • 2012: 184 • 2011: 63 • 2010: 0 • 2009: 172
I've already got my boots off, so let me do this math for you. If I've counted all my fingers and toes properly, the number of apartments built in the last five years has outnumbered the number of houses/duplexes built by 793 to 324.
Since we're doing math, here's another interesting number: Lawrence's population as of July 1, 2012, was 89,512. As of July 1, 2008, it was 90,520. (Confession: I cheated and used Census Bureau figures here. My wife and kids wouldn't take their shoes off.) That's 1,008 fewer people, but during that time we've added 419 new apartment units and 237 new houses/duplexes. City officials, however, have taken exception to these Census Bureau population estimates because they think the city's population has been undercounted. The city contends that population has grown slightly during the time period.
Either way, it sure seems that apartment construction, in particular, is outpacing the growth of new residents. If that's true, it would be interesting to see the vacancy rates of some of the older, less maintained apartment complexes in the city. It doesn't get much discussion at City Hall, but it is plausible to think that one of the larger issues of the next decade is how those old apartment complexes get redeveloped in the future.
Whether you leave your shoes on or off, that is likely to involve some pretty complex ciphering.
Maybe 13 is a lucky number in this case. Lawrence home sales for the 13th month in a row have posted year-over-year gains, but the more striking fact is the improvement in almost every category real estate observers care about.
According to the new report from the Lawrence Board of Realtors, agents sold 102 Lawrence homes in April, a 45 percent increase over April 2012.
In a departure from past months, even newly constructed homes sold well. Builders sold 13 new homes, compared to just four in April 2012. To put the number in perspective, Lawrence builders had sold only 13 homes in the previous three months of 2013 combined.
The April numbers continue what has been a good start to 2013. For the year, 261 homes have been sold in Lawrence, up about 32 percent from 2012 totals and up 45 percent from same period in 2011. The number of newly built homes sold checks in at 26, up from 17 at this time in 2012 and 18 in 2011.
Sales of newly built homes will be a number to really keep an eye on. New home construction has more potential to boost the Lawrence economy than people simply buying and selling existing homes. That’s obviously because new construction involves employing people to build and houses and develop neighborhoods.
A couple of numbers that builders will keep an eye on are the number of days a house stays on the market before it sells, and the number of homes actively listed. Both numbers showed some bullish signs in the last month.
The median days on market for a home is now at 66, down from 88 in April 2012. The number of homes on the market also has fallen to 419, down nearly 32 percent from the 613 listed in April 2012. The number of newly built homes on the market is at 29, down from 56 in April 2012 and from 63 in April 2011.
As the market has picked up, there are signs that prices have too. The median selling price on homes in 2013 stands at $167,000, up 7.8 percent from the same period in 2012. It is always tough to gauge pricing trends just from this report, but at this time last year, the Lawrence real estate market was showing signs of a real price correction. Last year, at the end of April, the median home price was down about 10.2 percent.
The new numbers certainly have put new bounce in the step of local real estate agents.
“These recent statistics reflect a dramatic shift in our local market,” said John Esau, president of the Lawrence Board of Realtors.
Esau, in fact, went so far as to say he believe the market now has shifted from a buyer’s market to a seller’s market.
We’ll see what May brings: Perhaps lucky 14.
••• There’s another report out that shows Lawrence home builders are slowly starting to ramp up their production. According to a new report from the city, 17 building permits were issued in April for single-family and duplex homes.
That’s the highest April number in at least five years. For all of 2013, the city has issued 59 single-family and duplex permits, which is 20 more than it issued during the same time period in 2012.
Other items from the April report include:
• For the year, the city has issued permits for $54.8 million worth of projects, up 63 percent from the same period a year ago. The $54.8 million is by far the best showing of the last five years. The average since 2009 has been about $27.5 million worth of projects.
• Apartment construction continues to be strong in Lawrence. The city has issued permits for 374 apartment units thus far in 2013. That’s the highest total of the last five years. Since 2009, the average has been about 105 units.
• Apartment construction was a big part of the $19.8 million worth of permits issued in April. Camson South — one of two apartment projects just west of Wal-Mart on Sixth Street — pulled permits for a $5.5 million project that includes 88 apartments and a clubhouse. Other large projects include phase I of the Rock Chalk Park project, including construction of the track and field stadium. Lawrence-based DFC Company pulled $6 million in permits for that project. Discount Tire also pulled a $1 million permit for work on its new store at 4741 Bauer Farm Drive, just west of the new Starbucks in that area. Several of you have asked about the timeline for the new Discount Tire location, and I do have a call into the company. I’ll let you know when I hear more.
Lawrence home builders have best first quarter since 2010, according to new report; Hallmark undertakes another $3.3 million in construction
Shine that hammer and sharpen that saw. There are signs that the Lawrence homebuilding industry is getting busier.
According to a new report released by City Hall, builders started 23 new single-family or duplex homes in Lawrence during March. That brings the total number of single-family and duplex permits to 42, which is the highest first-quarter total since 2010.
For decades, single-family home construction has been the bread and butter of the Lawrence construction industry, and a major driver in the overall Lawrence economy. But the industry has hit hard times. In 2011, only 95 single family building permits were issued for the entire year, snapping a 55-year streak of the city issuing at least 100 new single-family building permits annually.
Since then, the industry has been creeping back. But this latest report is the best sign yet that the industry is getting a new footing. The first-quarter single-family and duplex numbers are 40 percent higher than the 2012 first-quarter numbers and are double the 2011 first-quarter totals.
The latest report also had strong numbers for several other parts of the local construction industry. Here’s a look at other figures from the March report:
• The city issued permits for $12.1 million worth of projects in March, the highest March total since 2009.
• For the year, the city has issued permits for $34.9 million worth of projects, the highest first-quarter total in the past five years.
• As we’ve previously reported, Hallmark Cards is moving all of its U.S. greeting card production to its Lawrence plant as part of a reorganization. That project is continuing to pay dividends for the local construction industry. Hallmark took out a $3.3 million building permit to make interior renovations to the plant. That’s in addition to $1.2 million worth of permits Hallmark already had received for the project earlier this year. If your abacus is a bit rusty, that means Hallmark now has undertaken $4.5 million worth of work at the plant during the first three months of the year.
• The city didn’t issue any permits for new apartment construction in March, but for the first quarter, that sector has been busy. Through the first three months of the year, the city has issued permits for 286 apartment units, the highest first-quarter total of the past five years.
If you are like me and continue to set off crimson and blue confetti bombs in the TV room after every Jayhawk victory, you soon may be looking for a new house. So, how about some news and notes from the Lawrence real estate and building industry?
• The city has February’s building permit report out, and the numbers continue to be a tale of two types of construction. Single-family home construction continues to be pretty stagnant, but there are builders staying busy with multifamily construction.
The city issued 10 single-family building permits during the month. For the year, the city has issued 18, which is on pace with what the city did last year. (There were 19 issued during the first two months of 2012.) On the apartment front, though, the city issued permits for 22 new apartments in February, bringing the total number of units to 286. Apartment permits come in bunches though, and all the permits are for one project in the city — the new apartment development just west of Wal-Mart at Sixth and Wakarusa. That project, by the way, is being built by Lawrence-based Highland Construction, which indicates Lawrence’s Stultz family — longtime landlords in the community — are behind the project.
In total, the city issued $6.04 million worth of building permits in February. For the year, the city has issued $22.7 million worth of permits, which is up from $10.47 million a year ago. It’s early, so it is not wise to read too much into those numbers yet, but city officials certainly would love for that pace to continue.
• Sales of single-family homes continue a steady climb, according to a new report from the Lawrence Board of Realtors. Lawrence homes sales in February checked in at 46, up from 44 during February of 2012.
For the year, home sales are up about 20 percent — 82 home sales during the first two months of the year vs. 69 for the same period a year ago. But the bigger story is that February marked the 11th consecutive month that homes sales have been higher than the same month a year earlier. That’s the type of statistic that begins to paint a picture of a rebound. Indeed, I’m hearing from some in the industry that agents are now starting to believe that more homes are needed on the market. That hasn’t been the case for quite some time. If that feeling continues, that’s the sort of sentiment that will fuel a rebound in the single-family construction industry.
In terms of other numbers from the monthly report:
— The number of active listings in Lawrence is down almost 30 percent from a year ago — 371 in February 2013 compared to 510 in February 2012.
— The median selling price for the year is $174,125, up from $145,000 during the same period a year ago. But the sample size this early in the year is so small that those numbers don’t mean much.
— The median days on market is at 99, which is up significantly from 79 days one year ago. That’s the one piece of the report that runs a bit counter to the recovery trend.
• You know the housing market has been slow when homes that are built to sell for prices below their market value were slow to sell. But that had been the case for awhile with the southeast Lawrence affordable housing project being built by Tenants to Homeowners.
In case you have forgotten, Lawrence-based Tenants to Homeowners has started construction on the Prairie Wind affordable housing community right near the corner of 26th and Haskell.
The development is listing brand new four bedroom homes for $125,000 to $130,000. The homes have an appraised value of about $175,000. But Rebecca Buford, executive director of Tenants to Homeowners, told me even those homes were moving very slowly in the Lawrence market for the last year or more.
But there are signs that is changing. Buford said the development has put four houses under contract in the last three weeks.
“It is like a switch was turned on in the last month or so,” Buford said. “I think people have just been scared. And it probably wasn’t a good decision to buy if they didn’t think their job was solid. But I think people are starting to feel better about that.”
The Prairie Wind development is set to have 18 homes when completed. Buford said five houses have already been sold and another seven are under construction, with four of those under contract. She said she hopes to have the project fully built and sold by this time next year.
The development does place income restrictions on who can qualify to buy the below-market rate homes. Buyers must have an income under 80 percent of the median income for the area. For a Lawrence family of four that means an annual income of less than $56,650.
• I have some catching up to do here on our listing of property sales as recorded by the Douglas County Register of Deeds. Click here to see the last few weeks worth of reports. There have not been many commercial sales of note, other than the ones we already have reported in past Town Talks. But here are few that caught my eye.
— Maybe James Naismith’s original rules of basketball will be housed in The Oread hotel. I rather doubt that, but it appears the man who bought the rules to bring back to KU has purchased a condo in the hotel building. The listings show a trust held by David and Suzanne Booth bought an upper story condo in the hotel that sits atop Mount Oread.
— The Midland Railway Historical Association in Baldwin City has purchased a piece of property, 1704 College Street, along the railroad tracks, about a block south of its historic station. No word yet on what the plans may be for that location, but the old-time train company has been busy lately. It launched its first dinner train in January.
— It looks like business must be going well for Biemers BBQ at 2120 W. Ninth St. The property transfers indicate the business has finalized a deal to purchase its restaurant location — which used to be the old Bucky’s hamburger joint — from a group led by Lawrence businessman Doug Compton.
I don’t know about you, but a little BBQ and basketball sounds good right about now.
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.