Building permits for commercial construction in Tyler skyrocketed last year, jumping in value by 169.1 percent compared to 2012.
Some estimate there is about a half billion dollars worth of commercial construction going on in Tyler.
Tom Mullins, president and chief executive officer of the Tyler Economic Development Council, said he would agree with that assessment, and in his 25 years here, he has never seen so many cranes working around town.
Five cranes have popped up in the city skyline in recent months, helping to construct the city of Tyler’s Fair Plaza Garage, Tyler Junior College’s Rogers Nursing & Health Sciences Center, Tyler Independent School District’s Career & Technology Education Center; the Smith County Jail expansion and the Grace Community Church renovations.
“The continued rise in construction shows that the private sector is thriving in Tyler, and we are expecting even more growth for 2014,” Michael F. Wilson, Development Services engineer for the city, said.
New construction, as well as population growth, sales tax revenue and other growth indicators in Tyler dipped during the recession and while they were low for the city, they were better than the rest of the country, Mullins said. They seem to be getting back to pre-recession activity, and he expects to start seeing record numbers across the board.
The city of Tyler had 64 commercial buildings constructed in 2013, a 20.76 percent spike compared to 53 new building permits filed in 2012, Wilson reported.
Last year’s commercial permits valuation was $125.4 million — a 169.1 percent increase compared to new commercial construction valuation of $46.6 million in 2012.
Having so many governmental projects going on — with schools, the city and county constructing and renovating large projects — is kind of cyclical, Mullins said.
“Those were things that were talked about for years,” he said. “They just happened to culminate at the same time.”
While Tyler will see steady growth in other commercial construction, there will be a downturn in governmental developments, he said.
There were several large permits filed last year by public entities.
The city of Tyler is constructing the $7.2 million four-level parking garage and a rental car services facility at the Tyler Pounds Regional Airport for $1.148 million.
Although permits for the jail were filed in 2012, its $35 million construction continues and Smith County filed permits last year to remodel a building for its adult probation offices for $1.077 million.
Local schools filed several building permits for multi-million projects last year.
TISD topped the list with its two-story Career & Technology Education Center for $27.692 million, followed by TJC’s Rogers Nursing and Health Sciences Center, which had a building permit filed for $8 million.
Cumberland Academy filed a permit to construct a middle school for $7 million.
Mullins said new school construction attracts new commercial and residential construction. “They see these new campuses and see this commitment to education. … It speaks very positive to Tyler’s commitment to investing in our future,” he said.
Mullins said many out-of-town groups are discovering Tyler.
Dallas-based Retail Connection is constructing the 80-acre Village at Cumberland. He said when the project began, it was the largest development of its kind in Texas.
“That’s pretty impressive,” he said.
Tyler/Broadway Centennial Partners filed the first of what will likely be many building permits for the Village at Cumberland Park retail center. Permits filed last year totaled $4.35 million and included four shell buildings at 8942 S. Broadway Ave.
Grace Community Church is renovating and adding to its facility at 3221 Old Jacksonville Highway, for $3.115 million.
Longtime business Texas East Gymnastics constructed a new gym for $1.1 million. Time-it Lube filed a permit for Xpress Car Wash for $1 million. Irving-based Supreme Bright Tyler LLC is constructing a $5.5 million, four-story Residence Inn by Marriott hotel. And Centene Corp., which has headquarters in St. Louis, filed an $8.5 million building permit to construct a 51,650-square-foot facility.
There are other national groups looking at Tyler.
Mullins said a national site selection consultation group is considering Tyler as one of three cities for a national business to come in and possibly bring 700 jobs. While driving them through Tyler, they were amazed at the amount of traffic for a weekday evening and the activity of the retail strip on Broadway Avenue, he said.
National groups, like the recent prospect, look at population, student population and commercial growth, among other things, when considering whether to locate here. “They liked the indicators they saw,” Mullins said.
Other commercial construction that topped $1 million last year included the new Prosperity Bank at 1200 S. Beckham Ave., constructed for $1.2 million; and First Baptist Church’s youth building at 17002 U.S. Highway 69 South for $1 million.
There also were several large renovation projects. They included Walmart doing a $2.5 million renovation to the former Albertson’s building, at 1900 ESE Loop 323, for a Walmart Neighborhood Market; and Mike Pile BMW renovating and expanding its facility at 2401 WSW Loop 323 for $1 million.
SO FAR THIS YEAR
In less than two months to start off 2014, several multi-million commercial construction projects have begun.
TISD filed building permits for renovations to Rice and Dixie Elementary schools that will each cost $11 million. First Christian Church is demolishing part of its existing building and constructing an addition at 4202 S. Broadway Ave. for $3.9 million. Bank Texas is constructing a Tyler branch at 2520 Elkton Trail for $2.8 million. And East Loop 323 Management LLC is constructing a La Quinta Inn at 2552 SSE Loop 323 for $2 million.
Mullins pointed out that along with the big commercial building permits filed with the city this year, The University of Texas’ Ben and Maytee Fisch College of Pharmacy won’t be one of them. The project doesn’t have to file a permit with the city. Instead, it goes through the UT system, he said.
The city saw 5,884 building permits filed last year. That’s a 1.06 percent increase from the year before, when 5,822 permits were filed.
The total valuation for all permits filed in 2013 was $296 million, an increase of $58.4 million, or 24.6 percent, compared to the $237.6 million valuation of all permits filed in 2012, Wilson reported.
There were 274 new residences constructed last year, a 31.73 percent hike from the 208 new residential permits filed the year before. Valuations for new residential permits were $83.4 million in 2013, a 39.2 percent increase from the $59.9 million the year before, Wilson said.
Jason Gregory, president of the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors, said Tyler has a lot of commercial construction because people are investing money in the economy. He said much residential building also has been seen throughout the area, especially custom homes in outlying communities such as Whitehouse, Bullard and Lindale.
The city of Tyler collected $866,370 in permit fees in 2013, an increase of 13.48 percent from the $763,449 in fees collected in 2012.