The total value of Spokane-area building permits issued in 2009 fell sharply as a downturn in commercial construction followed the already slumping home-construction sector, industry observers say.
Building permit values for last year in Spokane County and the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley totaled $526.5 million, down 26 percent from 2008.
While the city of Spokane doesn't break commercial permits into a single category, subtracting the new residential and residential remodel permits from its total shows that nonresidential permits in 2009 totaled $178.86 million, down 24 percent from a year earlier. Commercial permit values in Spokane County fell 32 percent to $66.9 million last year.
Permit values for single-family homes continued a four-year decline, the total values of such permits falling 38 percent to $111.8 million for 665 residential units, compared with $181.5 million for 965 units a year earlier.
Wayne Brokaw, executive director of Inland Northwest Associated General Contractors, says public works projects are keeping some companies afloat, but private-sector jobs have nearly dried up, and any turnaround in permit activity may be slow in coming.
"People are comparing 2009 to 1982, when we had a huge downturn, and it took a couple of years to get back up and running," Brokaw says.
Many commercial developers have been having trouble obtaining project financing, he says.
"Lending institutions still have not loosened up," he says. "I keep telling everybody that projects aren't going to be any less expensive a year from now, and lenders will get a better bang for their lending dollar now, but everybody's still leery of taking chances."
In the city of Spokane, permit values totaled $242.6 million in 2009, down from $310.1 million in 2008. Eight of the top 10 projects with the highest valuations in 2009 were public works projects, says Sean Shields, the city's permit coordinator.
The first round of permits for the Spokane County water reclamation plant, which is being developed at 1004 N. Freya, had the highest permit valuation in the city of Spokane, at $16.4 million. It was followed in value by permits for the Spokane Falls Community College science building and the Spokane Community College technical education building, valued, respectively, at $14.1 million and $11.1 million.
A $5.9 million Secure-It Self Storage project, at 4019 S. Cheney-Spokane Road, which is being developed by Lanzce Douglass, had the highest value of any private project permitted by the city.
The city currently has projects valued at $97 million under plan review. Most of the valueabout $84 millioncan be attributed to remaining permits for the county's water reclamation facility.
"Others are continuing to trickle in," Shields says.
Projects that are anticipated but not yet under plan review include a photography and fine arts building, and an early childhood learning center, both planned at SFCC, with a total anticipated cost of $24.8 million, Shields says.
In Spokane Valley, the private project with the highest valuation to be permitted in 2009 was the $11.4 million Granite Point Phase II apartments, at 12925 E. Mansfield, which is being developed by HAL Valley Apartments LLC, of Spokane.
High-value projects in the unincorporated area of Spokane County include a $13 million apartment complex, at 16320 N. Hatch Road, north of the Wandermere area, which is being developed by Inland Washington LLC, of Spokane Valley.
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