Asheville sees drop in construction activity

Construction activity in Asheville has hit a five-year low, according to a story in the Citizen-Times. [emphasis added]

Data released by the city Friday shows the annual construction value of permits issued during the 2017-18 fiscal year was $284.7 million, down about 79 percent from the previous fiscal year. That figure has not been lower than $300 million since the 2012-13 fiscal year, when it came in at $225 million. The city attributes the drop to a decline in large commercial and other "unique" projects such as the 12-story Mission Hospital for Advanced Medicine and the Arras Residences, both of which are scheduled to open in 2019.

The city also saw a slight dip in construction permits issued between both new and altered commercial and residential projects. It issued 2,380 construction permits during the fiscal year, 14 percent fewer than in 2017.

OK, so we had a few large projects that drove up the figure in the past year or so.

But that second part - about the dip in permits - should raise alarm.

New construction.

Renovations.

Commercial.

Residential.

They're all down?

[The head of the city's Development Services Department, Ben] Woody said at the time the declines likely are the result of developers finding it more difficult to locate land suitable for building within city limits at prices low enough to turn a profit, among other issues.

What other issues? Why can't developers turn a profit? Is the land over-valued, or is there some other reason that virtually all development is unprofitable?

This explanation smacks of deflection - essentially accusing property owners of greedily trying to get too much money for their land. That cannot be the total picture, as it would require virtually all property owners to be over-pricing their land - which is unrealistic.

Only one thing could impact such a vast array of project types - making them all virtually unprofitable. Namely, the regulatory costs of development. Which is why the people doing the regulating tend not to mention this.

In a COMPLETELY unrelated story, the City Council is refusing to approve any more hotel projects. The progressive Mayor and Council blame hoteliers for housing tourists who the politicians believe are the real reasons why they cannot budget for basic services.



Pete's Prep Sheet: Monday, Nov. 19, 2018

  • The A-B Tech Board of Trustees still hasn't gotten a response from Buncombe County leaders about how they spent millions of dollars that voters approved for the college, but got diverted to other county programs and services. WLOS has that story.

  • The North Carolina General Assembly comes back into session next Tuesday. It'll be the Republican super-majority's "lame-duck" session before new members are sworn in next month. Lewis told Spectrum News he expects the Legislature will write bills for Voter ID and overhauling the Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

  • The Broward County, Florida election supervisor at the heart of the post-election ballot-counting controversy resigned her post over the weekend.

  • Asheville native, Luke Combs, won the Country Music Association 2018 New Artist of the Year.



Pete Kaliner

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