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VOL. 112 | NO. 64 | Monday, April 20, 1998

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By SUZANNE THOMPSON Retail construction starts decline in first quarter By SUZANNE THOMPSON The Daily News Retail construction starts decreased 6.6 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period in 1997. Five permits, with values totaling $1.56 million were filed in the first quarter, while seven permits valued at $1.67 million were filed in 1997, according to Shelby County Construction Code Enforcement records compiled on The Daily News Online. Local developers said the decrease in retail construction starts indicates that construction levels are returning to normal after the boom of retail construction in 1996. During the first quarter 1996, when the Wolfchase Galleria was under construction, 15 permits valued at $14.78 million were filed. "I think now we are in more of a normal pattern of development," said Michael A. Lightman Sr. of Michael A. Lightman Realty. "We all know that 1996-1997 were unusual years. There was a lot of pent up demand for some of these new big box users that came in. Most of the ones who had been looking found a home in those two years, so that took a lot of prospects out of the market," Lightman said. Ken Hoerster, vice president of retail development for Trezevant Realty, also sees retail construction returning to normal. "Were not really seeing a slow down in our area, but I do agree that there probably is some return back to normalcy," Hoerster said. "Theres not going to be the influx of big boxes in 98 that there was in 97." Four of the six permits filed in the first quarter were in the southeast region of Shelby County, with one of the remaining two in the Wolfchase Galleria area. Because incomes have increased in Cordova and in southeast Shelby County surrounding Nonconnah Parkway, it follows that retail construction starts would follow increased wealth, said David H. Ciscel, professor of economics at the University of Memphis Bureau of Business and Economic Research. "That is attracting new strip and independent retailers," Ciscel said. Lightman said his company has a 20,000-square-foot strip mall under construction in front of the new Malco Majestic Cinema on Winchester which he expects to be complete in late 1997 or early 1998. Hoerster said he believes the new push this year in retail construction will be supermarkets. He said Albertsons/Seessels has three or four new stores slated for construction this year. Ciscel said he expects retail construction development to continue to grow steadily throughout the year. "When we look at the three aspects of the retail sector, construction, sales and employment, I continue to see a good, strong, healthy sector in terms of growth in 1998," he said.
PROPERTY SALES 157 157 10,093
MORTGAGES 161 161 11,107
BUILDING PERMITS 229 229 22,402
BANKRUPTCIES 54 54 6,365