Residential construction in Craig: There hasn’t been much
As discussions begin between Craig’s hospital — which is considering donating the site of its now-abandoned facilities to create space for housing — and stakeholders including potential developers, the potential for substantial new housing construction in Craig seems nearer than it’s been in quite a while.
According to a report prepared for the Craig Press by Craig and Moffat County building official Marlin Eckhoff, only eight “stick-built” homes, or homes constructed from the foundation up, have been built inside Craig city limits going back to at least 2017.
“So far in 2021, there have been a total of 13 stick-built homes and eight manufactured homes permitted for Craig and Moffat County combined, with two of the stick-built homes and two of the manufactured homes being built within the city limits of Craig,” Eckhoff wrote. “These numbers have held pretty much the same through the pandemic.”
The numbers for Moffat County as a whole in the previous four years are as follows, Eckhoff reported:
- 2017: Eight stick-built, 15 manufactured homes
- 2018: Eight stick-built, 12 manufactured
- 2019: Eleven stick-built, 13 manufactured, one duplex
- 2020: Eleven stick-built, 13 manufactured
Over that time, 84.3% of the stick-built homes in Moffat County were built outside Craig.
“While there are still a few available lots within Craig to build single-family homes, they are pretty limited and most are not in newer, more desirable neighborhoods,” Eckhoff wrote.
Multi-family units are also “very scarce,” Eckhoff wrote.
“High demand for affordable apartments has resulted in four motels switching from short-term stay to long-term apartment rentals within the last year,” he wrote. “The shortage of rental units also seems to be affecting long-time Craig residents that have had the home they were renting sold to someone relocating to town, which requires them to try to find somewhere else to rent, which is pretty limited right now.”
Development in general continues to face a bit of an uphill battle, Eckhoff said, though most causes are not directly related to Craig.
“2021 had its challenges for the building industry due to soaring material cost and long lead times for many building components,” Eckhoff wrote. “For example, 2x4x8-foot studs went from under $4 to over $12, and 7/16 OSB, which is common sheathing material, went from around $16 to $80. This added between $25,000 and $40,000 to the cost of an average single-family home.”
Eckhoff said he was aware of several projects that got postponed this year as a result of that, or because of lack of available contractors.
“It seems even through the pandemic, most reputable contractors stayed pretty well booked out,” Eckhoff wrote. “The good news is most wood products have recently dropped considerably in price.”
Craig, Eckhoff said, is exploring ways to jumpstart or at least improve the housing construction market on some level, looking at “much-needed” development for multi-family, single-family, workforce housing and senior housing.
“It looks like this may mainly be achieved by expanding infrastructure, such as water/sewer mains or streets, grants, and through possible tax incentives that may be available depending on the location of the development,” he wrote.
Additionally, as previously reported, a Housing Assessment Study that the city contracted with a consultant this spring is expected to be returned in part this fall and in full by the end of the year.
“This is something that we have to have to qualify for many of the grants that are available for certain residential projects, especially muti-family,” Eckhofff said of the study.
Eckhoff said there are a few preliminary discussions in the works with developers for single-family homes, as well as one for townhomes and one for a multi-family complex. Two mobile home complexes are also looking to expand, he said.
“The city’s goal is to do all we can to attract sustainable businesses and developers for residential units,” Eckhoff wrote. “Anyone currently moving to town will need housing of some sort. The city also has to be fiscally responsible and try to get the most bang for our buck with any time or money spent on incentives for potential development. With development cost being high everywhere, we are exploring ways to tip the balance in our favor for anyone looking to invest in our community.”
Eckhoff concluded with a hopeful tone.
“While current permitted projects are not at an all-time high, based on the amount of inquiries I receive about both residential and commercial properties, Craig and Moffat County appear to be attractive destinations,” he wrote. “So hopefully we can capitalize on this in the next few years.”
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