Jackson had a busy construction year in 2003, but it wasn't for all the best reasons.
Permit reviews for 2003 were up 70 percent over 2002, but a large part of that increase, city leaders say, is based on reconstruction after the May 6 tornado.
"I think it would have been an average year without the tornado damage, but that put us over the top," said Jackson building and planning superintendent Janet Sanders.
The total declared construction value for 2003 was $21.8 million, up from $12.8 million in 2002, which was significantly down from 2000 and 2001.
Last year, the city saw the biggest increase in the area of commercial buildings, where $9.2 million was spent in the construction of 20 new commercial buildings, compared to only $613,000 in 2002, $2.4 million in 2001 and $3.6 million in 2000.
The tornado wiped out several businesses and accounted for much of the commercial construction figures. Immaculate Conception School is rebuilding its campus for around $3.7 million and Ceramo, which manufactures and distributes ceramic pots, reported construction of around $900,000. All told, that's about half of the commercial construction totals in 2003.
But not all the commercial progress was the result of the tornado.
A new senior apartment complex was built for $1.3 million; the Branding Iron restaurant as built for $360,000; Main Street Fitness constructed a $250,000 addition onto its facility and the old Wal-Mart building was remodeled for $250,000 and now houses retail outlets Fred's and Nearly Perfect Shoes
There was a lot of new residential construction as well.
"We've been busy with new construction," said Shelia Hager, president of Seabaugh Construction, a Jackson general contractor. "We did a couple of tornado remodels on houses we originally built. We had other work going, but since we originally built these houses, people wanted us to put them back together."
Hager said she was able to work with other customers and postpone other work to get to time-sensitive tornado reconstruction projects.
John Thompson, a tornado survivor and executive at the Bank of Missouri, said his new home should be completed some time in mid-March. He said some of his neighbors are still waiting for their builder to start reconstructing their home.
Thompson also pointed out that not all the tornado reconstruction projects went to laborers in the county. Some contractors from outside towns like Poplar Bluff showed up and got some of the work.
Thompson, whose bank has approved many construction loans over the past year, says he doesn't believe Jackson will see construction take a dive the year following the twister.
Sanders, Jackson's building and planning superintendent agreed.
"A lot of the recovery was paid by insurance or disaster assistance, so I wouldn't expect there to be much of a depression in construction next year," Sanders said.
Thompson said that, regardless of population increase or decrease, there will always be a market for new homes as people continuously move into better places. And more and more subdivisions are popping up outside the city limits.
COMMERCIAL BUILDING, RESIDENTIAL REMODELING UP
|Jackson's building and planning superintendent says twister put total for permit reviews over the top.||2003||2002||2001||2000|
|Single-family dwellings||71||$9.1 M||81||$9.6M||83||$8.4M||88||$10.6M|
|Res. accessory structures||20||$41K||70||$191K||80||$242K||81||$479K|
|Com. accessory buildings||0||$0||0||$0||14||$184K||6||$57K|
|SOURCE: City of Jackson||Southeast Missourian|