Right now framers, pavers and roofers are working on the first 30 homes in phase one of a 187 unit subdivision near Church and Indianola. The President of Evergreen Communities, Mike Stettner, said the homes range in size from 1,500 square feet to more than 2,500 square feet and range in price from $169,000 to $269,000. So far, he said, he's sold 22 of the homes to mostly families making the move from Fresno.
According to city records, building permits for residential housing were up 300% in 2012. The demand is so great, City Manager, Brian Haddix, is recruiting for a fulltime building official to replace the part-time building inspector now under contract.
In addition to housing, Haddix added, the city has five new office buildings under construction, including the Lucido Office Complex on the southeast corner of 7th and P Streets. The four building, 52 office complex is the first downtown development to take place in decades. He said several commercial and retail developments are getting ready to break ground, and construction of a new 81-unit gated apartment community is expected to be approved and Thursday night's meeting.
Mayor Joshua Mitchell said other Sanger businesses are looking to expand to accommodate a growing workforce. For example, Pitman Farms/Sanger Poultry is looking to add on 34,000 square feet to its current location on K Street. All Star Gas is also doubling it's convenience store on Jensen and Greenwood.
A new grocery store is also slated to take the place of the old SaveMart on Church and Academy and Mitchell said a Sonic Drive-In will likely replace a vacant fast food restaurant on the corner of 9th and Academy. He said other projects are also in the works.
"We have a movie theater complex that we're very excited about and the screens will be anywhere between six to 10," he said. "We have a hotel that's coming and we're very excited about the hotel because we're the last major city you can drive to in order to get to the Kings County National Park. We want those people who are going to visit the park to come to our town, sleep in our hotel, eat in our restaurants and walk our downtown to shop in our stores. That's what's very important to us."
Mitchell and Haddix said financial incentive programs approved by the City Council are what partially ignited the sudden surge in development.
"It's government getting out of the way a little bit, reducing what we charge as a city so we can collect on the backend rather than the front end and everyone wins in the very end," said Mitchell.
Among the incentives is the Vacant Building Sales Tax Rebate Program. This program rebates 50% of local sales taxes generated during the first full year of operation, to a business that moves into a vacant commercial building. The Council also enacted the Downtown Building Permit Fee Waiver Program, which eliminates building permit fees for any new construction in the downtown business district.
Mayor Mitchell also said the Residential Development Impact Fee Waiver Program has helped create jobs in the city. The program rewards home builders who buy building components, goods and services used in the construction of new homes from local businesses, has given manufacturers of roof trusses, doors, cabinets and other home construction components a reason to increase their workforce and hours worked.
Because of the increased demand for building permits, the city says it's looking to hire a full-time building inspector to replace the part-time official now under contract. Recruitment is now underway and will be completed later this month. The new Building Official is expected to be on the job by February, 2013.