BENNINGTON — Local officials say the number of construction permits issued indicates a robust construction season ahead, a clear indication that the economy is on the mend.
Several large construction projects have been approved by the town and will break ground soon, said Daniel Monks, the town’s planning director and zoning administrator. Among the projects are:
* A new state office building, $17 million
* Construction of a Carbone Hyundai and Ford dealership, $5 million to $8 million
* A new Bank of Bennington branch, $1 million
* Bennington Rescue, $600,000 to $700,000
* Plasan North America, constructing a 4,000-square-foot addition, $800,000
Meanwhile, some projects have already been completed, including the renovation of the Aubuchon Plaza, which now houses the Department of Motor Vehicles and a fitness center, and the rebuilding of Martin’s Mini Mart, which burned last year.
“The summer is looking good for construction projects, both in number and in terms of investment. It’s a good turnaround from last year. The last couple of years have been slower than we’d seen,” Monks said. “Some of these were definitely put off because of the economy. You can definitely say that investment in construction in Bennington is increasing from last year to this year by a significant margin. That’s a good thing to see.”
The total number of permits granted by the town began to dip in 2007. In 2006, the town approved 348 permits, but it has dropped steadily in subsequent years, with 315 in 2007, 272 in 2008 and 265 in 2009. The number of permits issued in 2008 and 2008 was below the level in 1997.
The number of residential permits sought by local property owners remained relatively steady throughout the prolonged recession, according to Larry McLeod, the town’s building inspector. However, the permits sought were smaller in scope, he said.
“Last year was definitely a drop. People weren’t putting in the pools or decks or garages or the extra things,” McLeod said.
Monks said he expected an increase in the value of residential renovation projects this year. “It probably got down, if we had to grade it on A to F, to about a C-minus. Now we’re heading into the B range, which is good to see, and we’re hoping that it will continue to improve.”
The housing market is showing signs of life, too, according to town assessor John Antognioni. Local Realtors are seeing more leads and have more properties under contract. However, it hasn’t yet translated into an increase in closed sales, he said.
The local housing market did not experience drastic fluctuation in property values as other parts of the country did, Antognioni said.
“The houses that are selling certainly are at or above what we have them assessed for,” he said. “Here in town we really didn’t see houses selling for 75 cents on the dollar or markedly less than they were.”
Contact Neal P. Goswami at firstname.lastname@example.org, reprinted with permission from The Bennington Banner, Tuesday April 27, 2010
Troy Richardson and Re/MAX Maple Leaf Realty are active in the revitalization efforts with many new and expanding businesses leasing and buying property in the Bennington VT real estate market.