Builders still booming in Rochester

By Bob Freund

The home-building boom didn't miss a hammer beat in June, with more than $15 million worth of new houses getting under way.

Those residential start-ups and home improvements were the main factors that placed last month as the second busiest month for building permits in Rochester records.

The Rochester Building Safety Department issued 441 residential and commercial permits. The total value of $22.3 million was substantial, but not near record territory.


Much of the building activity approved in June involved small residential projects. For example, new decks alone accounted for 103 permits, or a little fewer than a quarter of the total issued during the month. Both April and May also were big deck months.

But home-building clearly was the driver in dollars. City inspectors approved permits for 96 new houses valued at $15.2 million last month. The building cost averages to just less than $159,000 each. The estimate declared on city permits also does not include purchases of land or landscaping.

Last month was the largest June in both the numbers and value of new home permits issued, according to city records.

The newest commercial projects receiving permits generally were smaller and less expensive than is often the case. None reached into millions of dollars.

Specifically, International Spice &; Groceries, a downtown food market in the 100 block of East Center Street, now is being completed after receiving its main building permits for $735,000. The cost of the project so far is $830,000.

Mayo Clinic received permits for $752,000 worth of remodeling for accounting offices on the fifth floor in its Plummer Building downtown, for $343,000 worth of work in the second-floor Family Medicine department in the nearby Baldwin Building, and for $240,000 in alterations to the fifth floor in the main Mayo Building.

The Rochester school district is doing $644,000 worth of remodeling for science classrooms at Kellogg Middle School.

A permit for $290,000 worth of interior work in an office for Merrill Lynch brokerage house was approved. That construction raises the total cost of the center in the 4000 block of 28th Street Northwest to $965,000, including past permits.


In addition, a warehouse for home appliance seller Guyer's Builders Express in the 1400 block of Industrial Drive Northwest is under way at a cost of $300,000, plus a prior $25,000 foundation permit.

Two additions to existing commercial buildings also were significant. One being built in the 3200 block of Prow Lane Northwest is for Westburne Supply, now part of the Ferguson Enterprises group. The permit estimates cost of the addition itself at $305,000, with $40,000 in related alterations to the existing building.

Greenway Co-op also is adding a $245,000 addition to its corporate offices in the 3500 block of East River Drive Northeast.

So far, for the first half of the year, the Building Safety Department has issued 2,016 permits at a total value of $147.3 million. That is 42 permits fewer than for the first six months of 2002, but 15 percent more in construction spending.

Home-building is brisk but hasn't yet caught up with 2002's first half. Only May and June have bettered last year's pace for new home permits.

City inspectors have issued 410 new home permits so far in 2003, 80 short of a year earlier. The construction value of those permits through June was $66.5 million, down about 5 percent from a year earlier.

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