Figures from the Independence Economic Development Council add some detail to upbeat housing figures noted in this space last week.
The Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City reports that the issuance of permits to build single-family homes is up 11 percent metrowide in the first half of the year and 25.4 percent in Eastern Jackson County. Independence in particular stands out.
The EDC has figures that are one month fresher, running through July. Single-family home permits total 52 so far this year, up from 38 at this point last year. There’s growth in duplexes, too – 62 this year, up from four last year. Permits for additions and alterations also are up sharply.
Here’s the impact. The value of the work represented in those permits at this point last year was $12.65 million. This year it’s $36.97 million. Commercial work is adding even more. It was at $28.05 million through seven months last year – and is at $116.99 million this year. Some of that is new buildings, but mostly it’s additions, alterations, signs and related things.
Ted’s Trash Service recently moved into a new office building at its site on Truman Road – $495,000. Wal-Mart on Bolger remodeled – $707.000. QuikTrip is replacing its store at Noland and Lynn Court – $1.43 million. The taxpayers are paying some of this too. The extensive work being done at Van Horn High School, for instance, comes in at $14.52 million.
All in all – homes and commercial work – spending is $113 million higher so far than it was at this point in 2016. That’s a lot of paychecks and lot more money rolling around the local economy.
A gain for Shawnee is a loss for Independence. The economic development manager at City Hall, Ann Smith-Tate, is leaving to become the president and CEO of the Shawnee Chamber of the Commerce and that community’s head of economic development.
Smith-Tate on Tuesday gave a brief update on the community improvement district for Noland Road from Truman Road south to U.S. 40. Businesses there have started levying a three-quarter-cent tax for aesthetic improvements and for loans for businesses to make their own improvements. The tax raises about $1.6 million.
One high-profile idea is beautification improvements to the Noland Road bridge at Interstate 70, under which pass 125,000 vehicles a day. For many, it’s the main entrance to the city, and Smith-Tate said the idea is to make sure it “shows that Independence is a place of quality.” That work is some time off yet.
“We’re seeing a lot of interest in Noland Road,” Smith-Tate said.
Still, that corner has a couple of specific challenges. One, pointed out by Council Member Karen Deluccie, is the unsightly brush at the northeast corner (the old Chuck E. Cheese's area). That’s the state’s responsibility, but the Missouri Department of Transportation is strapped for funds and concedes that it’s sharply reduced that kind of maintenance. City Manager Zach Walker said the city might have to look into what it can do.
The other is that the Kmart is gone -- from a theoretically prime spot -- but although there’s been some interest in the site, Sears still has a lease there for a couple more years. It might take some time for that situation to work itself out, Smith-Tate said.
-- Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s business editor and reporter. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-350-6313. He posts items on business and other topics on Twitter @FoxEJC.