Construction activity likely to match 2002’s |

Construction activity likely to match 2002’s

SUMMIT COUNTY – The pace of construction slowed last year, and building department officials around Summit County said Wednesday there are indications the slowdown has leveled off.

In contrast to the boom years of the mid-90s, when large condo complexes and subdivisions sprang up feverishly, permit activity for the early construction season this year shows a shift toward the modest – basement refinishes, additions, garages and renovations.

“We’ve received a reduced number of applications for multifamily projects (condos and townhomes) relative to previous years,” said Larry Renfroe with the county’s building inspection department.

And if a continued recession in the industry isn’t apparent in permit applications, it’s evident in other indicators. In Breckenridge, for example, permit applications in the period from January to April have risen each year since 2000. That year, the building department received 38 permit applications in the first quarter. The number rose to 41 in 2001, then 53 in 2002 and 55 this year.

But revenue from permits has dropped despite the increase in permits, said building official Charlie Stanley.

“The revenue for a hot tub project isn’t as much as for a big condo complex,” he said.

An extended winter might be delaying construction decisions, and some building officials said the business of building could pick up dramatically. With snow still on the ground, combined with uncertain economic conditions, developers and their contractors could be waiting to break ground and pour foundations.

Silverthorne building official Rick Weinman said applications are down from last year, but submissions are coming in later than they did last year. Weinman also noted that the department is receiving plenty of inquiries about building codes from designers and architects and they’re “hoping those submissions materialize.”

Others in the industry were also positive.

“We’re very optimistic,” said Greg Norwick, president of Everist Materials, one of the county’s major concrete suppliers.

More information to thwart drawing conclusions about the state of the industry came from Frisco, where building official Gary Pringey said that, although applications are down, the value of projects is up. Pringey said Frisco’s building department has received 42 applications this year, compared to 22 last year; 23 permits have been issued, compared to 31 the year before.

“But interestingly enough, the valuation is up to $3.1 million this year as opposed to $2.8 million in 2002,” Pringey said. “We’re seeing more significant projects this year, and it’s very difficult to predict what’s going to happen.”

Some in the contracting field said a slowdown isn’t all bad, either. Smaller projects mean more business for smaller trade companies to vie for. A reduction in projects also will likely lead to more competitive pricing for the consumer and quality construction from contractors trying to maintain a good business reputation.

Dillon builder Corky Woodring of Woodring Construction said there are fewer contractors in the county vying for the type of work he specializes in – remodels, repair jobs and additions. Woodring said the business is still competitive, but he’s glad the pace of growth has slowed down.

“There was too much of it in the past few years,” Woodring said. “I’d rather have it slow and steady. Otherwise it explodes, and then there’s no more work left.”

Rob Philippe of Frisco’s Masontown Development is forging ahead with a building project at Fifth and Main streets this summer. Philippe said the approach to build-out will maintain the pace of development, despite economic doldrums. In Frisco, he said, there’s very little Main Street space left, and developers are keeping an eye on the price of land per square foot. Philippe also noted that once build-out has been reached, the focus of the construction industry will shift to redevelopment.

Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or

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