Spokane Journal of Business

Spokane-area building permit valuations climb to four-year high

City cites public works projects as contributing to 50 percent increase

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The value of building permits issued countywide in 2012 rose to a four-year high, records for Spokane County and the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley show.

The permit valuations for the last year in the three jurisdictions totaled $682.1 million, up 25 percent from a year earlier.

The city of Spokane saw the largest increase in dollar value, rising to $349.5 million in 2012, up 50 percent from $233 million in 2011.

"Commercially, we had a good year," says Sean Shields, the city's permit specialist.

Shields attributed most of the increase in valuation to public projects, especially schools and educational buildings. Permits issued in that category included $52.6 million for the Biomedical and Health Sciences building under construction on the Riverpoint Campus, which was the highest value permit issued in the county in 2012.

Other school facilities permitted in the city include the $29 million-valued second and third phases of the Ferris High School modernization project, the $12.5 million Jefferson Elementary replacement project, and a new $10 million building at Spokane Falls Community College.

In 2011, the city's total permit valuation in the schools and educational buildings category was $12 million.

Shields says single-family home construction was up in the city in 2012 compared with 2011, but still was at only about 60 percent of average from years leading to the recession.

The city issued 186 permits for single-family homes with a total valuation of $49.7 million in 2012, compared with 155 single family homes with a total value of $39.2 million in 2011.

"We did have some nice privately funded projects," Shields says, noting the $16 million Gonzaga parking structure on the block southeast of Boone Avenue and Hamilton Street, and the $10.9 million Lowe's outlet at 6606 N. Division.

For 2013, projects valued at a combined total of $30 million are under plan review with the city. They include the $6.5 million Clare View senior retirement complex planned at 3146 E. 44th, and the $5.4 million Cedar Crossing II apartments and retail center at 6511 N. Cedar.

Projects in plan review don't yet include separate plans by the Spokane Public Facilities District to expand the convention center exhibition hall and by Walt and Karen Worthy to construct a convention center hotel downtown, either of which could overshadow other projects under review in terms of value, Shields says.

Among the local jurisdictions, the city of Spokane Valley saw the largest percentage increase in permit valuation in 2012. Permit values there totaled $111.6 million, up 71 percent from $65.4 million a year earlier. The highest-value project permitted in Spokane Valley last year was the $26.5 million Beach House apartment complex, at 16621 E. Indiana Parkway, followed by the $13.2 million Homestead apartment complex, at 15720 E. Fourth.

Of note for 2013, the city of Spokane Valley recently issued a $14.2 million permit for ongoing construction at the Providence Medical Park-Spokane Valley complex, at 16528 E. Desmet Court. Providence has estimated the total value of that project, including work started in 2012, at $54 million.

While the collective total for the three jurisdictions is up markedly, unincorporated Spokane County saw a 10 percent decline in valuation in 2012 compared with a year earlier. The county's permit values totaled $221 million last year, down from $245.8 million a year earlier.

The county permitted only a handful of projects valued at more than $2 million in 2012, with the largest being the $6.7 million Cheney Elementary School, at 6323 S. Holly, followed by the $5.8 million recycling facility at 2902 S. Geiger Blvd.

The county, though, saw a large increase in residential construction in 2012, with 473 new single-family residences permitted with a total value of $153.3 million, compared with 359 single-family residences with a total value of $80.3 million a year earlier.

Mike McLean
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Reporter Mike McLean covers real estate and construction at the Journal of Business. A multipurpose fisherman and vintage record album aficionado, Mike has worked for the Journal since 2006.

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