Fifteen million. And the year is only half done.
Last week, the City of Humboldt announced that in the first six months of 2012, they had issued building permits with a total value of $15,431,727.
“This is a substantial increase over the same six-month period in 2011, which saw $5,834,365 in building permit values,” a news release issued by the City stated.
The increase, the City said, is in part due to major projects like the construction of a Sobey’s food store on the west side of the city, as well as a new Farm World equipment site on the east side.
As of June 30, 2012, 12 commercial permits had been issued, totalling $9,035,798. As well, 39 residential permits had been issued, representing $6,395,929 in home construction.
“It’s encouraging to see increases in our permits year after year,” said Mayor Malcolm Eaton. “The residential and strong commercial activity is extremely positive, with developers wanting to be here.” The City anticipates construction activity will remain high over the next six months.
“We are a growing, vibrant city,” Eaton noted, “and these developments are all positive signs for our economy.”
These values are a far cry from those recorded 10 years ago. From about 2000-2005, the total value of building permits issued every year was around $3 million.
“The city typically sold two to three lots per year,” said Eaton about the situation when he first joined council in late 2003.
The first jump came in 2006, when permits for the whole year totalled a value of $12.1 million, with the bulk of those on the residential side.
In 2007, the value of the permits dropped a little, to $11.8 million over the year — again it was mostly in residential development — but in 2008, it took a huge jump, to $46 million, due in large part to the construction of the new Humboldt District Hospital, which began that year.
With a jump on the commercial side totalling over $13 million, 2009 values came in at $21.9 million total. In 2010, values were at $43.6 million, thanks to the construction of the new high school on the institutional side and over $19 million on the residential side, and in 2011, they amounted to $9.1 million.
The rise in interest in residential lots for new homes led to lotteries being held for a number of years. However, no lottery was held this year.
“We’re in a bit of a plateau period,” said Eaton. “People have chosen some other options.”
The demand will be rising again, however, Eaton believes.
“I know there is a lot of interest out there, and a lot of investment in housing is going to occur in the next few years.”
The prices of the City’s lots changed last year — they now range between $70,000 and $90,000, as opposed to the $60,000 to $70,000 they were before.
The rise in price, Eaton said, covers the cost of servicing the lots, and allows a little extra for reinvestment.
“It’s one of the challenges of growth, to be able to have the kind of pricing that recovers costs... as well as be able to allow some money to then reinvest in further land development,” Eaton said.
It’s not just new builds that are adding up the building permits on the residential side, Eaton said.
“When you look at the building permit reports for the last seven to eight years, the amount of investment that has gone into renovations and additions.... there has been a tremendous amount of that.”
People have invested in their homes, remodelling them, putting in new windows and new siding, adding garages, he said.
And on the commercial side, a lot of businesses have upgraded, added on or renovated; the rise in permits on that side is not solely due to new buildings.
“There has been a big investment but our local people, our local businesses, in their property as well,” he said.
Where is the hot spot for residential development in Humboldt these days?
Eaton thinks it’s in the south end of the city.
The private development, Clearview Properties, on the southwest corner of the city has seen a lot of action, he indicated.
The City has sold a number of lots in the southeast corner, as well, and in the Heidgerken development around the new hospital in the north end — a popular spot for new homes over the past number of years.
But there has been a lot of infill construction south of the tracks, as well, the mayor said — in what he called the Thrifty Market neighborhood, around that convenience store on the west side of Main St.
This older neighborhood has seen some old houses knocked down to make way for new homes.
“The City has a tax incentive policy for infill housing there,” Eaton said. “The City is thrilled to see the improvements to the neighborhood new housing brings in terms of infill,” he added.
There’s a lot more on the horizon on the residential side, the mayor indicated.
“Residents will see over the coming months, a considerable amount of land developed for residential construction get underway,” he stated.
The over-20-acre North Ridge development north of Discovery Ford, and the 30-plus-acre Bridge Road project north of the hospital are both significant projects getting underway, Eaton said.
These are the two projects where the community will see land development, with water and sewer lines and roadwork going in in the near future, Eaton said.
Dirt should be moving out at these sites in the coming weeks and days.
In addition, there are a number of smaller projects underway, in different planning stages, he noted.
The Bridge Road and North Ridge developments are just the two most advanced and significant developments, he said.
“The City has sold a couple parcels of land.... conditionally... based on planning going forward,” he stated.
There are housing options included in some of these projects that are in the early planning stages, he said, including affordable housing options.
“Everyone defines affordable housing as something different,” Eaton admitted.
One definition, though, is providing options for people in terms of prices and styles. Concept plans for some of these projects include a variety of options, a variety of price points.
The City is also making progress in terms of addressing the shortage of rental accommodations, which has been an issue in the area for a few years now.
A new apartment complex is potentially on the horizon, as well, Eaton indicated.
Though this project is in its very early stages, the City is pleased with the interest being shown.
“It’s a difficult business model for developments to build in the market these days,” Eaton explained about why no more apartment buildings have been constructed in the last few years.