Jackson beating the housing trend

Friday, January 25, 2008
Lance Little, left, and Manuel Alday installed rim board to the subfloor of a house under construction in Klaus Park Village on Thursday, where a few houses are being built in the southeast part of Jackson. (Fred Lynch)

The national news for homebuilders has been dreadful. Housing starts nose-dived 25 percent in 2007. The 1.35 million total was the lowest since 1993.

But Jackson bucked the national trend in 2007. The city issued permits for 62 new single-family homes valued at $11 million, an increase from 48 new homes in 2006. Another 17 new duplexes received permits. This compared to a drop in single-family home starts in Cape Girardeau from 101 in 2006 to 82 in 2007. In the rest of Cape Girardeau County, the number was 163 in 2007 and 188 in 2006.

"Statewide and nationwide there is a decline. We've been fortunate not to have that hit us yet," said Janet Sanders, Jackson's building and planning superintendent.

While the 2006 total was actually a dramatic drop from the 81 permits for single-family dwellings issued in 2005, city officials are happy that the numbers are going in the right direction. Jackson issued permits for 71 single-family dwellings in 2003 and 61 in 2004. The high year, 2005, was a boom year everywhere locally, with new single-family housing starts up 27 percent in Jackson, Cape Girardeau and Scott City.

The construction value in Jackson last year -- $26.4 million -- was not as high as in 2006, but the 2006 total included $16 million in the schools' major bond projects. Construction values represent the amount contractors bid to build projects and do not include land.

Chris Lix Development was responsible for 16 of the 2007 construction permits, including both single-family homes and duplexes, most in either the Savannah Ridge subdivision or Klaus Park. Lix's crew of 129 is building the houses for Mathes Land Development, which has already sold them to local and California investors. The investors will then rent out the houses.

Owner Mike Mathes said the Cape Girardeau County housing market does not suffer when other parts of the country may.

"Cape has been stable for 100 years," he said.

His company sold 60 houses in the county between Jackson and Gordonville in 2007, he said. "There's no problem here."

He blamed "big companies and high-powered people" for the housing crisis in the West.

His company soon will open up sales so that two-thirds of the houses will be available to local homebuyers and the rest to investors. Home prices range from $119,000 to $300,000. The standard size is 1,200 or 1,500 square feet and includes three bedrooms and two baths.

Mathes predicts the positive local trend to continue in 2008. "I expect to sell a hundred homes," he said.

Sanders expects Lix's permit numbers for 2008 to be substantial. Lix already has received permits for nine homes in a single subdivision.

She said the demand for duplexes continues to be strong in Jackson due to retirees who don't want a large yard to maintain and people who want to live in one side and rent out the other.

Jackson issued about the same number of permits for residential remodeling in 2007 as in 2006, but the value of the construction increased almost 50 percent to $947,000. "People are doing larger projects or more expensive projects," Sanders said.

In January, Jackson developer and lawyer John Lichtenegger has received a permit to build an 18,000-square-foot office building at the intersection of East Main Street and Travelers Way. Construction on a Rhodes 101 station across the street on East Main Street is expected to start this summer.

Eleven new commercial building permits were issued in 2007. The city's major commercial construction projects in 2007 were:

* Comfort Inn & Suites, 2904 Old Orchard Road, $2.2 million. The motel is still under construction.

* City of Jackson North Water Tower in the North Industrial Park, $1.28 million. Still under construction.

* Two six-unit townhouses for Jones Landmark Development, 2271 and 2303 Garrett Lane, $1.2 million. Still under construction.

* O'Reilly Auto Parts, 615 E. Jackson Blvd., $447,000. Open for business.

* Kohlfeld Distributing office expansion, 4691 E. Jackson Blvd., $305,000. Still under construction.

sblackwell@semissourian.com

A duplex was under construction in Klaus Park Village in the southeast part of Jackson.

335-6611, extension 137

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