Allen County construction booming with more than $1 billion in building permits

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Allen County offices fort wayne
Allen County offices Ft. Wayne

Allen County has issued more than $1 billion in construction permit\s, for the second year in a row, county officials say.

Permits for new buildings, building repairs and remodeling reached $1.015 billion by Nov. 29 – on pace to reach or surpass the $1.032 billion total for all of 2017.

The billion-dollar mark was reached several days sooner than last year, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported officials as saying..

The overall number of permits issued has lagged slightly from last year – 25,230 as of Nov. 29, compared with 26,185 by the end of 2017. However, 2018 is still shaping up as the best year for construction in the last five years, said John Caywood, county building department commissioner.

He told The Journal Gazette he expects this year’s numbers to continue to rise as the industry scrambles to beat cost uncertainties contractors might face in 2019.

Caywood said permits had reached $1.022 billion by Dec. 4. “Lately, we’re doing about $2.2 million (in permit value) a day,” he said.

The permit statistics include both commercial and residential construction. Apartments, including multifamily senior living developments, are considered commercial permits even though the result is residential space.

The building department data indicates, the number of commercial permits through Nov. 29 – 6,339 – was above the 6,253 commercial permits issued in all of 2017. The number of residential permits, however, was down slightly from last year’s year-end numbers – 18,981 were issued through Nov. 29, compared to 19,998 by the end of 2017.

However, the value of those residential permits increased even when compared to all of 2017 –  $428.4 million as opposed to $399.1 million, an increase of about $28 million, or about 7 percent.

Commercial permit value declined – $586.8 million through Nov. 29 from $632.9 million for all of 2017, about 8 percent.

Caywood said the residential dollar amounts were consistent with cost increases for materials such as lumber and steel and a tight labor market.

Several large projects by Fort Wayne Community Schools, East Allen County Schools, Lutheran Hospital and Lincoln Financial contributed to the commercial permit numbers, while residential permits were boosted by several projects including Aslan Passage, Whisper Rock, Fox Hollow, Greyhawk and Magnolia Meadows. 

Caywood said his department has been able to keep up with increasing volume with technological improvements. About 49 percent of permits are processed online, up from 28.3 percent five years ago, he said.

Also, he said new-project meetings with staff members of the Department of Planning Services help ensure the permitting process goes smoothly

“And we have a very willing contractor base here to work with, and that’s a reason we’re hitting a billion dollars two years in a row.”

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