Development applications take a big drop from 2009

The number of development applications submitted to the city of Grand Junction in the first quarter of 2010 was nearly 53 percent less than in the first quarter of 2009.

During the same time, local permit application revenue increased, going from $23.1 million in the first quarter of 2009 to $41.5 million in the first quarter of 2010.

Permits and development applications cost about the same amount, but they deal with different property uses and stages of development. Development applications are mostly for people building subdivisions and buildings, subdividing land, changing the use of the land or getting annexed into the city. Permits are for actions such as putting up a fence, sign or banner or getting a planning clearance for single, multifamily or commercial use or remodeling the interior of a building.

Developers submitted 36 applications in the first three months of this year, compared to 77 in the first quarter of 2009. Fifty-three applications were submitted during the last three months of 2009.

The trend in permits and development applications appears to fit with a trend of more people wishing to remodel or reuse existing buildings and fewer people wanting to build something completely new, City Public Works and Planning Department Manager Tim Moore said.

Moore said planning activity is down, but there are signs of life in the development community, including an increase in preliminary meetings between planners and developers considering a project. There were 51 of those meetings in the first quarter of 2009. This January through March, there were 54 of those meetings.

“That’s encouraging,” he said.

The economy hasn’t scared off every project. Developer Bruce Milyard decided to go forward with construction of a 48-unit, high-end apartment complex at 2535 Knollwood Drive currently under construction south of McAlister’s Deli in the Corner Square development at First Street and Patterson Road. Ria Suites at Corner Square is scheduled for completion this fall.

“It’s a Catch-22. Construction costs are down, but also the rental market is a little softer than it was,” Milyard said.

Construction material prices and low rates on HUD financing convinced Milyard to go ahead with the project.

A mix of projects, including Ria Suites, Cabela’s, American Furniture Warehouse, City Market on 24 Road, the college center at Mesa State College and other projects, are keeping City Manager Laurie Kadrich cautiously optimistic about the local economy.

Still, she pointed out Monday in her quarterly city manager report to the Grand Junction City Council that development applications are at their lowest level since before 2000.

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