Building boom

City sees best year for start-up construction since 1998

The city of Craig issued 26 permits for new homes in 2002 -- the best year for start-up construction since at least 1998, according to the city's year-end construction

report.

Figures compiled by Dave Costa,

Craig's community development director, show the jump in housing construction includes 13 permits issued each for "stick built" homes and modular units.

Just 11 were issued in 2001, while last year's housing performance was the best since 21 permits were processed in 1998.

The new construction also spurred a corresponding jump in new home valuations -- $3,370,588 total last year compared to $854,388 in 2001, city figures show.

Overall, Craig's total valuation for all new construction was $6,235,919, nearly double from 2001 and beating levels from the past five years with the exception of 2000's $14,458,801, which was largely driven by work on the Moffat County Public Safety Center.

City housing observers said last year's increase -- fueled by low-level interest rates and affordable lots -- could continue at a steady clip through 2003.

"We've already seen several residential permits processed this month," Costa said. "It looks like this market may continue, but it's 'guess-and-by-golly.'"

Sari Cobb, president of Craig's Board of Realtors and associate broker with American Northwest Realty, said a surge in activity and queries was noticed late in the second half of 2002.

Cobb believes an increasing shortage of "quality building sites" within Craig proper is behind the recent interest in "light covenant" housing developments.

At least two separate parties are studying sites, market needs and demand for new subdivisions,

she said.

"A lot of new buyers are looking for mid-range priced, working mom-and-dad subdivisions," Cobb said.

Meanwhile, as new stick-built houses pick up, mobile home construction is tailing off.

Costa's report shows eight permits were issued last year, as opposed to 18 in 2001. Permits have declined steadily over the last five years from the 54 issued in 1998.

Paul Shockley can be reached at 824-7031 or at pshockley@craigdailypress.com.

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