Home Construction on Weber Heights in Washington

Homes under construction stand on Weber Heights Drive March 11 in Washington.

Officials: Most Permits Issued Since 2004

Construction in Washington has plenty of momentum heading into 2021 after a busy year in 2020, according to the city’s annual building report. 

In the report, 48 new single-family homes were built in Washington last year — a level of new home construction not seen in the city since 2004, when more than 70 permits were issued for single-family homes.

“That was a different time,” City Administrator Darren Lamb said. “In 2004, there were lots of different subdivisions and developments happening in the city. It was just a really good time to do construction, so lots of people were building new homes.”  

Lamb said the 2020 surge could be credited to a robust regional and city economy, changes to the city code that lowered the minimum lot sizes for new home construction and the completion of a section of homes in the Overlook at Weber Farms subdivision, which is being developed by Vic Hoerstkamp, developer and owner of Northern Star Homes, LLC. 

The single-family homes built had a valuation of $12.31 million, according to the report. 

“Even with the price of lumber and materials going up, we are seeing the pace continue from 2020 into this year,” Lamb said. According to city documents, 15 building permits already have been issued for single-family home construction this year. 

Many of these permits are for properties in the Locust Valley subdivision being built by McBride Homes at the intersection of Jefferson, Locust and East Eighth streets.

Washington’s Community and Economic Development Director Sal Maniaci said the city has issued 35 residential permits so far this year, including permits and renovations. The valuation of the work is $9.5 million. 

“We haven’t seen a slowdown, that’s for sure,” Maniaci said. “I’m hoping we can surpass last year’s permit numbers and continue to climb.” 

Multifamily housing building permits also were up last year, according to the city, with seven permits issued. 

From 2011 to 2018, the city had zero permits issued for multifamily housing. 

“(When we adjusted the lot size requirement) that is when you start to see the permits for single-family and multifamily homes really start to increase,” Lamb said. 

The annual building report also includes details of $10.7 million in commercial construction, down from the city’s average of $11.21 million for the past decade. 

“Commercial and industrial construction is difficult to compare year to year,” Lamb said. “Washington has benefited from being the retail hub of the county. Approximately 30 percent of all sales tax revenue generated in Franklin County comes from Washington. It is not uncommon for us to see commercial construction year after year.”

The three biggest commercial construction projects in 2020, by dollar amount, are: Planet Fitness, 1903 Rabbit Trail Drive, $2.467 million; an addition at GH Tool and Mold, 423 WW Industrial Park Drive, $1.6 million; and Purcell Tire, 1451 Huxel Drive, $1.4 million. A complete list of the commercial and industrial construction projects issued permits last year is available online at emissourian.com

“This just goes to show that residential construction and commercial construction can go hand-in-hand. When the numbers of rooftops go up, it makes developers feel more comfortable about making investments into a community,” Maniaci said. “One success feeds the success of the other.”

The pace of 2020’s commercial construction permits also has carried over to 2021. 

In two months, the city has issued permits for more than $674,000 in commercial construction. Among the biggest projects are a $565,000 interior renovation of WEG’s Bluff Road location, a $499,000 renovation and expansion of Williams Brothers Meat Market, the Bank of Washington’s $122,000 renovation of its branch location in Schnucks at Washington Crossing shopping center and a $66,000 project at Triology. 

Lamb said, “We are fortunate, as a city, that we’ve continued to see growth and construction each year.”