Boone, Watauga County Planning Directors Update HCHBA on Construction Activity, Q&A

Published Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 5:28 pm

By Jesse Wood

Watauga County Planning & Inspections Director Joe Furman and Boone Planning & Inspections Director Bill Bailey gave their annual construction activity report to and held a Q&A with the High Country Home Builders Association on Monday at Grandfather Vineyard and Winery. The event was sponsored by Mountain Tile and Ferguson.

Permit activity is about flat, according to both directors, but big projects abound.

Watauga County

On the residential side, construction activity is relatively flat compared to recent years. Watauga County Planning & Inspections Director Joe Furman said that Watauga County is on pace for 110 single-family building permits through the end of July.

“We are on pace to match the year before and the year before that,” Furman said.

The current pace of single-family building permits compares to 105 in 2015; 105 in 2014; 140 in 2012; 127 in 2012; and 90 in 2011. Furman described the 2011 figure of 90 as “rock bottom.”

While Watauga County set a record for a total of permits last year with 1,107 and will likely come close to that figure this year, Furman noted that only 10 percent of those permits are for single-family homes. The majority of permits are for additions, remodels, HVAC upgrades, garages, decks and so forth.

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Watauga County Planning and Inspections Director Joe Furman speaks to the High Country Home Builders Association at Grandfather Vineyard and Winery on Monday. Photos by Ken Ketchie

“Everybody seems to be relatively busy. You all can tell me better than I can tell you. Seems like less folks are doing the work. Smaller crews and therefore staying relatively busy,” Furman said, which is similar to what he told High Country Press last summer.

Furman noted that Blue Ridge Mountain Club and Sweetgrass are two large gated communities that are “growing and seem to be doing well.” He added that Echota is also growing but at a slower pace the BRMC and Sweetgrass.

In general, Furman said that there is a glut of subdivided lots on the market, and banks aren’t giving loans for the creation of new subdivisions because of that glut. In the High Country, Furman said lots are “highly speculative” compared to the more urban markets. Here, lots might sit for years for people who bought them as an investment or are holding them for when they are ready to build a seasonal home.

As for commercial development, Furman said that Tractor Supply will open this fall on old U.S 421. Modern Toyota’s collision center is being built between Old U.S. 421 and Archie Carroll Road, and a Dollar General is slated for Foscoe and another part of the county.

Furman also said that fire departments are being built in Zionville and a satellite station in Blowing Rock near the intersection of Aho and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Boone

Boone Planning & Inspections Director Bill Bailey said that the pace of permit activity is “pretty slow increasing.” The fiscal year that finished this summer featured 945 permits, which represents about 50 more than the previous fiscal year.

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Boone Planning and Inspections Director Bill Bailey speaks to the High Country Home Builders Association at Grandfather Vineyard and Winery on Monday.

“Statistically, we are pretty much dead even,” Bailey said.

Unlike Watauga County, Boone features more commercial development, and with those projects having high valuations, Bailey said the total value of projects fluctuates quite a bit year-to-year.

For example, The Standard development is a $39 million development and the Hampton Inn is a $14 million development. While those aren’t yet finished, the developments are listed in the previous fiscal year’s project list, totaling in the $60 million range.

This year, Bailey said the total valuation of projects is down to $32 million.

“That just shows you the scale of the projects we are having. Next year I expect that to go back up,” Bailey said.

For just-recently finished, ongoing or upcoming commercial projects, Bailey cited:

In the past five years, the Boone Planning & Inspections office has averaged about nine or 10 single-family homes, but this year, he said the office has received 16 permits.

The total construction cost of those homes is about $4 million. Bailey said that a few of the homes are “quite large,” in the 5,000- and even 7,000-square-feet range.

“Having 16 is a pretty significant number,” Bailey said. “I guess the economy is turning around a little bit. We are getting a few more in town.”

 

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Grandfather Vineyard and Winery provided the beautiful setting and lovely wine.

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Boone Planning and Inspections Director Bill Bailey speaks to the High Country Home Builders Association at Grandfather Vineyard and Winery on Monday.

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Watauga County Planning and Inspections Director Joe Furman speaks to the High Country Home Builders Association at Grandfather Vineyard and Winery on Monday.

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David and Trudy Shell of Mountain Tile, which sponsored this event along with Ferguson

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