Development slowed slightly in 2012 |

Development slowed slightly in 2012

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

While the total building permits in Nevada County and Nevada City dropped in 2012 from the previous year, Grass Valley saw a slight increase in development from 2011.

“We’ve had an uptick in the number of permits,” said Tom Last, Grass Valley’s community development director. “That’s a good thing.”

Between January and November of 2012, 553 building permits were issued in Grass Valley compared to only 496 issued during all of 2011, according to Last.

“Our economy is so tied into construction,” said Barbara Bashall, executive director of the Nevada County Contractor’s Association.

In the rest of the county, though, the opposite trend played out.

In 2011, 2,053 building permits were issued between both unincorporated county areas and Nevada City, whereas that figure only reached 1,968 permits in 2012.

“I think it was a pretty slow year,” Bashall said. “It stopped and stalled, depending what was happening in the news.”

For the Nevada County and Nevada City combined figures, the largest segment was alterations or add-ons to existing structures, with the second largest portion of permits granted to nonresidential additions.

Grass Valley saw a similar trend.

“There was more work this year,” Last told The Union in December. “We were slammed with smaller projects.”

Nevada County also issues building permits for Nevada City, and its numbers could not be extrapolated from the county’s totals as of press time. But Nevada City Planning Director Cindy Siegfried said she saw similar movement from her vantage point.

“I was pleased to see the amount of remodels,” Siegfried said, “Either major remodels or sizable additions.”

“There isn’t a lack of work today,” she added. “We’ve been steady. We haven’t seen a huge increase, but we haven’t seen a huge decrease either.”

Nationally, the inventory of previously occupied homes available for sale has fallen sharply.

“That is a precursor that new homes could be built soon,” Bashall said.

Sales of new homes fell slightly in December, dragged lower by steep declines in the Northeast partly related to Superstorm Sandy, but they were still 17 percent higher in October than the same month a year ago.

“The builders are optimistic that 2013 will be better,” Bashall said. “There has been a lot of pessimism. We’re all hoping 2013 is going to be better.”

Builders nationwide are locking up more land and ramping up construction. All told, builders broke ground on new homes and apartments in October at the fastest pace in more than four years.

In Nevada County, a few larger projects wrapped up in 2012, with more in the pipeline.

The Community Recovery Resources’ $11 million recovery center was completed in September near the intersection of Sierra College Drive and East Main Street.

In October, Wolf Creek Lodge, a $11.2 million senior co-housing facility, opened off McKnight Way in Grass Valley.

Dorsey Interchange is a nearly $25 million project to add
on- and off-ramps to Highway 49/20 at Dorsey Drive that
has been in the works for three decades, said Tim Kiser, director of Public Works and a city engineer.

With a bidder to be chosen by the end of January or early February, the Grass Valley City Council is set to discuss renaming the project after slain Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

The Grass Valley area headquarters for the California Highway Patrol, a $14 million project, is nearing completion.

In Nevada City, the Alpha Building redevelopment is expected to get going in 2013 as well, Siegfried said. The new KVMR building is also plowing ahead.

People tend to pull applications for building permits in the spring, Last said, as weather becomes more amenable to construction and families have a better idea of their available funds than they do around the end of a year.

“In planning, we’re usually the first department that sees it,” Last said. “There are a lot of people waiting to see what is going to happen.”

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call (530) 477-4236.

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