VOL. 118 | NO. 231 | Tuesday, December 21, 2004
By Andy Meek
Construction Activity Remains Strong
Downtown development contributes to04 increase
The Daily News
The resurgence of interest in Downtown Memphis continues to
have a major impact on the areas construction market, driving activity this
year above peaks reached in 2003 and 2002. And its only one of several factors
behind a strong increase in the number of building permits filed over the last
Continued growth. From
Dec. 1, 2003, to Nov. 30, 2004, 11,555 building permits totaling $1.52 billion
were filed in Shelby County, according to The Daily News Public Records
Database, www.memphisdailynews.com. Thats up from 11,307 permits totaling
$1.29 billion filed in the same period of 2003 and 10,468 permits totaling
$1.08 billion filed in the same period of 2002.
The numbers include permits filed with the Memphis and
Shelby County Office of Construction Code Enforcement, which oversees
construction in Memphis and unincorporated Shelby County, as well as the municipalities
of Lakeland, Arlington and Germantown. The totals include permits for
residential and commercial properties, as well as remodels and additions.
In Memphis alone, building permits in the period reached
7,188, up from 6,874 in the same period of 2003 and 6,880 in the same period of
Downtown development. One
reason for the increase in filings is the fact that more construction projects
are being pursued Downtown, according to several Memphis builders.
Downtown has definitely increased a good deal from what it
was four or five years ago, said Brett Grinder, vice president of administration
for Grinder, Taber & Grinder Inc. Theres a huge resurgence, with First
Tennessee Bank redoing their building and several law firms relocating and
revamping their spaces Downtown.
Grinder, Taber & Grinder is the general contractor for
First Tennessees nearly $40 million renovation of its Downtown headquarters at
165 Madison Ave. Its one of several projects Grinder said has led to the companys
marked increase in construction activity this year.
Between Dec. 1, 2003, and Nov. 30, 2004, the company filed 58 building permits
totaling $6.3 million. That figure is down from 50 permits totaling $54.6
million filed in the same period the previous year.
Commercial projects. Other
projects the company is currently involved with include construction of a new
$30 million library at Rhodes College, several industrial and interior-finish
projects, as well as an office building for a group of attorneys going up at
Sanderlin Avenue and Mendenhall Road, Grinder said.
Commercial work has definitely increased a great deal, he
said. A lot of interior-finish type work or lease renewal-type work seems to
be coming into play. And office work and then the industrial market looks like its going to be very strong for the first and second
quarters of next year, which it hasnt been in years past.
Prime location. In
terms of prime locations for new construction activity, Lee Patton, co-owner of
Patton & Taylor Enterprises, agreed that the Downtown market continues to
attract new projects and attention from builders.
There is quite a bit going on Downtown, and theres quite a
bit of condo activity, he said. I would say over half our business now is
going Downtown, and a lot of it is this bid work. And we see a lot of work
coming up in the springtime for these condo projects and rehabs.
Commercial projects are the companys main ticket at the
moment, he said, and nearly all of those are occurring in and around Downtown.
Were not really bidding on any new multifamily, and were
not doing anything really outside of Downtown. Thats where everything weve
got is coming up.
Patton said the company is bidding on several rehab-to-condo
conversion projects involving the conversion of old warehouses into condominium
units. The company filed a $7.9 million permit in August for a condo-related
project at 648 Riverside Drive.
Around town. Downtown
is one of several strong areas at the moment. Arlingtons 38002 ZIP code also has seen strong activity over the last two years. From
Dec. 1, 2003, to Nov. 30, 2004, 433 permits totaling $66.7 million were filed
in the 38002 ZIP code, down from 732 permits totaling $112.2 million in 2003.
And while the number of permits filed in East Memphis ZIP code
38117 has fluctuated recently, construction activity in the area has remained
strong. From Dec. 1, 2003, to Nov. 30, 2004, 371 permits totaling $33.9 million
were filed in the 38117 ZIP code, a slight decrease from 398 filed in the same
period of 2003 and from 429 filed in the same period of 2002.
Southeast retail. Beyond
that, Todd Wallace, owner of Horizon Construction, said the southeast portion
of the county has been another attractive market for builders.
Weve seen big increases in retail activity there, he
said. And were not seeing so much out at the Wolfchase area, because that
market is saturated. I think it will continue trending farther out east to the
Collierville area once the new mall is built.
Wallace said several factors are driving overall
construction activity in the region. In addition to the economy, the citys
growth patterns are behind much of the activity, he said.
The economy affects it, but were also seeing a growth
pattern for the city still driving out east, he said. I think because of the
population growth out toward the east, whether it be up Highway 64 out toward Oakland
and that way, or the opposite way out toward Collierville, I think thats the
reason were seeing a lot of retail development over there.