Building permits decrease in Basehor
Kansas City metro area has banner year, but Basehor, county numbers show a decline in 2003
Spurred by a ballooning home-buying market and low interest rates, home builders in the Kansas City metropolitan area took out a record number of permits in 2003,
According to statistics released this month by the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City, cities in the metropolitan area issued 10,742 permits in 2003, eclipsing the area's previous high mark of 10,285 in 1999.
A decrease in permits issued in Basehor and Leavenworth County was offset by growth in Wyandotte and Johnson counties, and the metro posted a 7 percent aggregate gain for the year, up from 10,071 in 2002.
"The obvious driving force was low interest rates," said Tim Underwood, executive vice president of the home builders association. "That huge difference pulled some people out of apartments. People looked at the numbers, and it made more sense to buy rather than rent."
Besides rock-bottom interest rates, Underwood also attributed the unprecedented growth -- consistent with nationwide increases in building permits -- to changing demographics, an improving economy and better job opportunities in the area.
But despite those factors, Leavenworth County ranked seventh among the Kansas City-area's eight counties with 416 permits. Only Miami County, with 212, issued fewer in 2003
Bucking the trend for the metro, Basehor issued 21 percent fewer permits in 2003 than in 2002. The dip from 71 to 56 contributed to a 13 percent drop in the county.
The drop wasn't unique to Basehor, however. None of Leavenworth County's four cities experienced an increase in the number of permits issued, and only Tonganoxie, with 57 permits, met its 2002 total."It was slower than the year before," said Mike Hooper, Basehor codes administrator. "From what we saw, the lower-income housing didn't drop much. Upper-level housing was a cause for the slowdown."
Access problems at the upscale Falcon Lakes development slowed permit issuance in Basehor north of Leavenworth Road, and a lull in the availability of homes priced in the city's normal $140,000 to $165,000 range also hindered the city, Hooper said.
But a lull in 2003 could mean a big 2004 for Basehor, Hooper said. With several mid-level priced subdivisions in the planning stages and activity beginning at Falcon Lakes, Prairie Lakes and Pinehurst, the city likely will rebound this year, Hooper said.
"We've got a couple of other developments in the works right now, and I think we'll see an increase this year," Hooper said.
Inverse to the decline experienced in Leavenworth County, Wyandotte and Johnson counties bolstered their numbers.
Bonner Springs and Edwardsville pushed gains in Wyandotte County to 48 percent for 2003. Bonner Springs itself boasted a 108 percent growth rate, from 25 to 52 permits, thanks in part to the city's location in relation to the metro's main roadways and a renewed focus on residential development, said city planner Dustin Smith.
"Our location on K-7 and I-70 is great, and we have good transportation facilities in Bonner Springs," Smith said. "We've had a lot of development contacts and people that are looking to Bonner to develop."
Smith said Bonner Springs is planning for increased growth in 2004 with three new housing developments set to apply for almost 500 permits.
Along 138th Street, the Cedar Springs and Lei Valley developments could add 435 permits, and 44 more could come from the Whispering Woods Villas development at 138th Street and Pratt Avenue before the end of the year.
"Over the last five years, I've seen the building permits increase each year," Smith said, "and over the last couple of years, it's been a pretty substantial increase."
Johnson County issued the most permits in 2003 with 3,612, a 5 percent increase over 2002. The number accounted for 34 percent of the metro total.
Three cities in Johnson County were among the area's most-desired markets. Shawnee issued 542 permits in 2003, the fifth-most of any metro city. Only Kansas City, Mo., Olathe, Lee's Summit and Overland Park were busier.
"I think it shows that we've been receptive to development with quality developers," said Paul Chaffee, Shawnee planning director.
"It shows that there is confidence in Shawnee, and that it is an attractive choice in the housing market," he said.
The city's hilly landscape, an emphasis on park development and education enrichment opportunities -- including a respected school system and good libraries -- increased Shawnee's marketability in 2003, Chaffee said.
"We just have a lot of options available nearby that a lot of other communities don't have," he said.
Moreover, Chaffee said Shawnee still has room to grow.
"We still have about 2,500 lots that haven't been built on, so that's at least a 5- or 6-year supply," he said. "As soon as one subdivision closes, it seems like another one opens nearby."
Underwood said conditions will continue to encourage growth in Shawnee and Kansas City as a whole in 2004, with favorable interest rates and a variety of development projected in the.
"Mortgage rates are predicted to stay fairly stable this year," he said. "I think there's a lot of potential. It's an emerging market. We're going to have to see how it plays out."