Home construction rebounding
It appears that the home construction industry's downturn may be leveling off in Leavenworth County.
"I think we're probably a little better than last year, but still below previous years," said John Zoellner, director of planning and zoning for the county.
A check with Zoellner's office, as well as cities in the county, shows that building permits have been issued for 242 house during the first six months of 2002. That compares with 332 single-family housing permits issued during 2001.
While the number of permits issued this year in most cities likely will lag behind 2001, Basehor is the clear exception. The city's new wastewater treatment plant has opened the floodgates to new-home construction.
According to Mike Hooper, codes administrator for the city of Basehor, that city has issued 53 permits for single-family construction during the first six months of 2002, which is 21 more permits than were issued in all of 2001. In addition, Basehor has issued permits for six duplex buildings this year, compared with 13 duplexes in 2001.
June was a banner month for home construction starts.
"We issued 27 single-family permits," Hooper said.
And more likely is on the way, particularly in Falcon Lakes, an upscale subdivision in the northeastern portion of Basehor.
"Before the June permits were issued, we had issued 26 permits this year," Hooper said. "The valuation for those 26 permits was almost double what the valuation was for all permits issued last year. That's partly due to the Falcon Lakes homes going in."
And while commercial construction hasn't kept pace with residential construction in Basehor, Hooper expects that to change. This year, three of the four commercial permits have been issued for small office buildings or additions. The city has issued a permit for Sonic Drive-In's new restaurant in the shopping center on the north side of U.S. Highway 24-40, at 155th Street.
"I think we'll see probably quite a bit more commercial starting," Hooper said.
Community National Bank plans a permanent bank building on the south side of the highway, near 158th Street. And other commercial development, including a grocery store, have been rumored, also on the south side of U.S. Highway 24-40.
In Tonganoxie, the city has issued 20 single-family residential permits so far this year, along with two duplex buildings. That compares with 34 single-family permits and 30 duplexes in 2001.
Although the city hasn't issued any commercial building permits, it's likely at least two permits soon will be issued for buildings in Urban Hess Business Park for a custom cabinet shop and for a veterinary clinic.
Commercial construction was king last year in Leavenworth, including the start of construction on a new store, Crown Lanes bowling alley and a new city fire station.
So far this year, though, new commercial construction has slowed to a standstill.
"But residential looks pretty good," said Harold Burdette, the city's chief building inspector. "As of the end of May, we were exactly right on the same pace as last year. We do have new subdivisions, and I estimated we would basically come out the same this year as last."
In rural areas of the county, new homes are cropping up in what Zoellner calls a shotgun approach.
"It's kind of all over the place," he said.
A total of 132 single-family building permits were issued last year for unincorporated areas of Leavenworth County. Through the end of June this year, 116 permits have been issued.
It's difficult to say, however, whether the building boom will return.
"We have a lot of plats waiting to be approved, so that's usually an indication of people at least selling lots," he said.