Building permits for the month of December across the area showed a 39.2% decline when comparing December 2013 to December 2012 across the cities of Fort Smith, Greenwood and Van Buren.
The total value of permits issued across all cities totaled $13.216 million for the last month of 2013, while December 2012 showed values at $21.737 million.
Even though the cities showed a significant decrease when comparing month to month, the region showed healthy growth for the year with a 29.06% increase in building permit values for all of 2013. From January through December 2013, the three cities posted values of $203.037 million, while 2012 only showed values of $157.32 million.
The city of Fort Smith closed the year with the largest total values at $177.687 million, an increase of 30.42% year over year. The city posted permit values of $136.248 million in 2012. The gains in the Fort Smith market were largely from industrial construction projects at Chaffee Crossing, the construction of Mercy's new orthopedic hospital along Phoenix Avenue and various municipal construction projects across the city.
Van Buren posted the next largest total for 2013, bringing in $17.067 million in building permits for the year, an increase of 38.96% from 2012's total of $12.282 million.
The only city to post a decline in permit values for the year was Greenwood, which posted $8.283 million in permits issued for 2013, a 3.79% decline from 2012's total of $8.609 million.
The city of Fort Smith issued 133 permits for the month of December, totaling $10.853 million.
Commercial building construction drove the Fort Smith figures, bringing in $7.4 million, while residential construction brought in an additional $2.457 million in permits for the month.
The largest single permits for the month include a new Mercy Clinic location at 3700 Cliff Drive valued at $2.34 million, a $1.754 million re-model of the Sam's Club located at 7700 Rogers Avenue, and a home valued at $705,360 being constructed at 8415 Howard Hill Road.
Greenwood's building permits on a percentage basis appear to have posted a meteoric increase of 3,435.5% from December 2012. But in reality, the city only issued four permits valued at $707,100 last month compared to one permit issued in December 2012 that only had a value of $20,000.
Three of the permits issued last month were for new residential construction valued at $701,100, while the fourth permit issued was for a residential repair or remodel valued at $6,000.
Van Buren posted $1.656 million in building permits issued for December 2013, an increase of 175.52% over December 2012's permit valuation of $601,000.
According to Van Buren Building Inspector David Martin, the construction of a new $1.283 million CVS Pharmacy at the intersection of Fayetteville and Rena Roads is a major driver of Van Buren's improved monthly numbers. Construction of the Van Buren location marks the third CVS under construction in the region, following announcements in Bella Vista and Fayetteville.
Residential construction was the second largest driver of building permits in the city, accounting for four of 18 permits issued last month for a total valuation of $351,000.
Combined values in the three cities during 2012 were $157.32 million, compared to $201.079 million during 2011. The 2012 value is above the $149 million in 2010, but below the $164 million during 2009.
Fort Smith closed 2012 with the largest share of valuations, logging $136.428 million (a one-year decline from $179.288 million of about 23.9%), while Van Buren was the next largest with $12.282 million (a one-year decrease from $12.39 million of approximately 0.87%). Greenwood posted an additional $8.609 million, which was down slightly from last year’s $9.461 million (down about 9%).
The 2012 figures were compared against a $28.5 million permit in 2011 for the construction of a Mitsubishi wind-turbine assembly plant at Chaffee Crossing. The plant has been mothballed by the company. Even without that permit, the Fort Smith metro area lagged when compared to 2011 showing a decrease of around 8.8%.