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Clark home construction slowly picks up

New home construction activity has picked up slightly so far this year in Springfield and Clark County, according to data provided to the Springfield News-Sun by county and city community development departments.

Homebuilders typically pull permits when they’re close to starting actual construction.

Through the end of April, 23 building permits had been issued in Clark County for construction of new single family homes, apartments and condominiums, according to the county. Those figures exclude Springfield and Tremont City. For the first four months of 2012, 15 new residential construction permits were issued in the county.

Through April, four building permits have been issued in Springfield compared to zero the same time last year, according to city government records.

The four Springfield permits were issued in March for construction of new two-family dwellings related to the Mulberry Terrace project. Mulberry Terrace is a 34-unit, $5.5 million project to build apartments and duplexes for the homeless in Springfield by Interfaith Hospitality Network. Apartments are being constructed at 120 W. Mulberry St.

“It’s a very slow new housing market. Remodeling continues to be strong,” said Kent Sherry, executive vice president of Building Industry Association of Clark County Inc., a home builders trade group that represents about 55 local members that do business in the industry.

New homes are being built in Clark County, but there’s little or no speculative building, which would indicate stronger confidence in the market, Sherry said.

“It’s not getting much better,” he said. “We’re kind of in the middle of the ocean in Springfield.”

The biggest challenges facing new construction in Clark County include job growth and low prices on existing homes, brought on by high foreclosure rates from the 2007 to 2009 recession, local builders say. Economic issues in Clark County have magnified problems with population growth.

Staff Writer Michael Cooper contributed to this report.

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