Gig Harbor City Administrator Denny Richards was pretty excited as he gave a brief staff report near the tail end of Monday night’s city council meeting.
The reason for his enthusiasm? Gig Harbor’s record-shattering number of applications for single-family homes in 2012. Last year saw 137 single-family home applications, obliterating the previous record of 62 set in 2011.
“We have just been crazy busy, and that’s a good thing,” Richards said, adding that indicators point to continued growth when it comes to single-family homes. “So, that’s pretty exciting.”
In an October story, Paul Rice, director of building and fire safety, predicted single-family building permits would continue to rise. As evidence, he cited Quadrant Homes’ the Ridge at Gig Harbor, a new neighborhood located near the Gig Harbor North shopping centers that features newly built homes in the mid-$200,000 range, and Rush Residential, a division of The Rush Companies, which has announced plans to build 92 homes in Harbor Crossing.
Also, as we detailed last week, Olympic Property Group’s Harbor Hill development along Borgen Boulevard is set to be transformed into a new neighborhood on what was once a large tree farm.
Last year marked the most permit revenue (that’s all permits, not just single-family residential permits) ever brought in by the city of Gig Harbor: $944,287. Compare that to permit fees generated in the previous four years:
A similar trend can be seen in the number of permit applications submitted to the city in 2012: 951. For the four years prior:
Not surprisingly, a large number of projects were completed in 2012, including Heritage Distillery, GNC, Great Clips, Harbor Graphics, Memory Care at the Lodge, Wilco, Uptown Eyes, 7 Seas Brewery, Marshals, Harbor Pediatrics, Sleep Train, Opus Bank, Menchie’s, Shear Madness Salon, Kohl’s, U.S. Bank, Harbor Plastic Surgery, Harbor Country Estates, Silver Soleil, Yo G’s, Blue Agave, MHS Orthopedic, Moctezumas, Cobalt Mortgage, British Connection, Sweet Melissa’s Bakery, Town Plaza, Bayview Building/Ship to Shore and 85 single-family homes, among many others.
“It’s been a huge year for us,” city Permit Coordinator Patty McGillian said in what might be something of an understatement.
This year looks to remain — in the words of Denny Richards — “crazy busy” as well, with a new wing for the Lodge at Mallard’s Landing and lots of tenants who are schedule to move into the new Point Fosdick Square buildings.
On a minor down note, average approval time for permits in 2012 was 24 days, up from 19 days in 2011, nine days in 2010 and eight days in 2009. That’s most likely because there are fewer people to process the plans. The city went from five full-time plan review and inspection staff members in 2008 to two last year.
Overall, however, we can’t complain.
Thankfully, Gig Harbor seems to be more than holding its own when it comes to weathering the sluggish post-recession economy.
We can be grateful the Maritime City we call home is dong so well economically, especially during a time when many cities in the state and nationwide are dealing with massive budget shortfalls, with some even filing for bankruptcy protection, like the California cities of Mammoth Lakes, San Bernardino and Stockton.
The old saying goes that you shouldn’t look a gift horse — in this case, a vibrant economic recovery — in the mouth, but we’re a newspaper.
Later this year, look for a multi-part story on the ingredients that have gone into the making of Gig Harbor’s economic recovery.
The peninsulas are becoming more self-sufficient, from family-wage jobs to shopping and recreation.