Construction permits, values down in 2014

The total number of building permits and the value of those construction projects dipped in 2014 in Clark County and Springfield, but local officials said they hope the numbers will pick up again this year.

The permits and their values can serve as an indicator of what’s happening in the local economy, said Tom Hale, Clark County Department of Development coordinator. But a major project or two can skew the numbers.

The most dramatic change in Clark County was the value of the commercial permits issued, which last year was only half of what it was in 2013, according to information from the Clark County Community Development Department. Despite the major drop in values, only 10 fewer permits were issued last year.

Hale wasn’t sure why the values fell from about $9.6 million in 2013 to $4.7 million last year. At least two Family Dollar stores and a CVS Pharmacy were built in 2014, but Hale said some of the permits may have been filed in 2013.

“They’re just a good gauge but you can’t really tell,” Hale said of the figures. “That one big project could come along. A big manufacturing addition or something of that nature or a school can make the numbers off from what they normally would be.”

For residential construction projects in the county, 23 fewer permits were filed in 2014. But the estimated value climbed to about $15 million, up about 17 percent compared to 2013.

The city of Springfield also saw a dip in project values, but not as significant as in Clark County. The number of commercial project ticked up slightly in the city but the value of the commercial construction projects fell about 9 percent last year to $25.9 million.

Some of the larger projects last year included expansions at the Ohio Masonic Home and upgrades at the Global Impact STEM Academy at the former South High School, said Bryan Heck, deputy city manager for Springfield.

This year could produce similar results, Heck said, but it’s difficult to predict. The completion of local industrial parks like PrimeOhio II and the Champion City Business Park in Springfield could lead to additional construction if users are found, he said.

“There’s a lot of opportunity and potential there with those available parks,” Heck said.

Champaign County also saw a significant drop in commercial project values in 2014, according to records from the Champaign County Building Regulations Department.

About 70 permits were issued in 2013, worth about $30 million. But only 54 projects filed in 2014, worth about $6 million, according to county records.

Those figures were skewed in part by more than $5.5 million in permits sought in 2013 by KTH, a St. Paris auto parts maker expanded last year. Johnson Welded Products, another Champaign County manufacturing firm, also sought permits in 2013 for an estimated $475,000 project and Dollar General sought permits for stores in Urbana and North Lewisburg for about $450,000 each.

The residential housing market remained relatively stable in both Clark County and Springfield, records show. About 300 permits for residential projects were issued in Springfield last year for about $2.3 million, compared to 351 permits for $1.6 million a year earlier.

In Clark County, there were 347 residential permits issued in 2013 for $12.7 million, compared to 324 permits for $15 million last year.

“Residential is still pretty flat,” said Kent Sherry, executive director for the Building Industry Association of Clark County. “It’s not really going anywhere and the state overall is a little behind 2013.”

One good sign is there has been a decline in foreclosures, he said, but credit is still tight and that’s is keeping some potential home buyers out of the market.

“Personally, our organization doesn’t see anything much beyond what we did in 2014,” Sherry said.

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