Residential construction surge continued in 2003

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Two major projects, the construction of Family Dollar and Action Motor Sports, were the highlights of an otherwise steady building season.

The Craig Building Department closed out 2003 with numbers that were just slightly higher than 2002's.

"It was real consistent with the last four years with the exception of public buildings," building Department Director Dave Costa said.

The city issued three permits for the renovation of public buildings last year, compared to 10 issued in 2002. There hasn't been a spike in that aspect of construction since 2000 when the public safety center was constructed.

Residential building was down slightly with 248 permits issued in 2003 compared to 255 in 2002, but the value of that construction was up $404,154.

Building department assistant Gayle Zimmerman said the difference was the number of stick-built homes was up compared to the number of modular homes being placed.

"The value of a stick-built home is typically higher than a manufactured home," she said.

The city saw a surge in manufactured homes in 2002, which pushed residential construction to an all-time high and more than doubled the value of residential construction.

The peak continued into 2003, with 29 new stick-built homes constructed and 10 modulars set.

Zimmerman attributes the change to the decreased availability of lots for modular homes.

"Residential building is the biggest we have in at least five years," Costa said. "It shows we're staying fairly steady in construction."

Though 29 new homes were built, 246 residential building permits were issued.

"There's a lot of remodeling going on inside the walls of a building that you're not going to notice," Costa said.

The city issued a total of 512 building permits in 2003, for a total construction value of $6,466,280 -- numbers that keep Costa hopping.

"In the spring and summer, I'm extremely busy," he said. "In the fall and winter it slows up because it's tough to build. Some days in the summer it gets pretty frustrating."

Costa is the city's sole building inspector.

He says the numbers don't yet justify hiring another.

"Construction activity doesn't warrant me hiring another staff member," he said.

Building permit fees for 2003 totaled $109,774 -- revenue that at least covers the operational costs of the building department.

Other benefits to the city are less tangible.

Property tax accounts for very little of the city's general fund revenue so new construction doesn't add much to the bottom line.

"It does add to the general fund, but not a lot," City Finance Department Director Bruce Nelson said. "We're more dependent on sales tax."

He says the benefit of new construction is that it brings new dollars into Craig that roll into sales tax.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, Ext. 210 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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