08/18/13 — Millions in projects, and still counting

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Millions in projects, and still counting

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on August 18, 2013 1:50 AM

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Building is in progress on a State Employees Credit Union on Wayne Memorial Drive across from Wayne Community College. The building is one of the new construction projects in the city limits of Goldsboro this year.

After a tough few years, the commercial construction business is booming in Goldsboro.

For the first seven months of the year in 2012, there were more than $26 million in construction projects in Goldsboro.

This year, that number jumped to almost $43 million.

The numbers were even higher in 2011 -- and skewed -- because of the $94 million Cherry Hospital addition -- which brought the total through July to $112 million. Take out the hospital project, building in the city logged a measly $8 million.

That's what makes the 2013 numbers such good news, said Allen Anderson, the city's chief building inspector.

"It was in the dumps with the economy, and I just think things turned around," Anderson said. "I'm ecstatic about it. It's a win-win for everybody."

He said many people don't understand the effect construction has on the economy from suppliers to truck drivers and many more industries.

"The wheel has been turning," he said. "We've seen an increase here and the engine is moving."

City Manager Scott Stevens said all development in the city is good whether it is residential or commercial, new construction or renovations.

"You're either building or losing, and I think Goldsboro has been steadily growing," Stevens said.

He said the valuation of projects speaks well for development in the city, pointing to the recent construction of the newly opened Harris Teeter. But Stevens also pointed out that any construction -- especially if there is a large number of projects -- is a positive trend for the city.

"Those big projects are great, but I'd almost rather have 50 smaller projects over one big project. They're all good things. Development is a good sign," Stevens said.

He said that so far, Planning and Development employees have been able to manage supervision of the projects, but added that if the boom continues, and there is even more development, staff will be added to manage the growth.

"I hope that will be a problem for us," Stevens said.

Stevens said the downside to development is the increased burden on traffic in areas such as Berkeley Boulevard and Wayne Memorial Drive, which both have improvements under way or in discussion.

"We have something on every (City Council) agenda development-related, and all cities can't say that," Stevens said. "It speaks well for the area."

He said Seymour Johnson Air Force Base moving more families off-base introduces new shoppers into Goldsboro stores, swelling the business revenues and building a stronger market for new business.

And potential retail businesses and restaurants are still looking at the city, Stevens said.

"We continue to get inquiries into development of areas, and these are positive indicators," he said.

And the news has been good for residential construction as well -- although not the boom the city has seen in commercial projects, Stevens said.

During the recession, a lot of the construction dollars in Goldsboro were centered in remodeling rather than new projects, but property values held steadier than in many areas of the state where drops were catastrophic, he said.

"People who had a $400,000 to $500,000 house maybe saw it drop to $200,000. We didn't have that type of bubble here."