Area housing permits down 32 percent in first half of the year

August 03, 1991|By Edward Gunts

The number of residential construction permits issued in the Baltimore area during the first half of the year dropped 32 percent from the same period a year before and was the lowest number since the recession of 1982, according to the Baltimore Regional Council of Governments.

The council released figures this week showing that 5,428 units were authorized for construction from January to June, compared to the figure of 8,046 during the first half of last year. In 1980 through 1982, by contrast, units permitted during each six-month period averaged 3,317, according to council figures.

Real estate analysts with Legg Mason Realty Group say the construction permit numbers are down largely because builders are launching fewer rental projects than they did in the first half of 1990, because financing has been difficult to obtain. But sales of newly constructed homes rose 14 percent in the first half of 1991 as compared to the first half of 1990, largely due to a burst of sales after the end of the Persian Gulf war, they say.

According to the regional plan ning council's report on building permit activity, the greatest decline in construction permits was in Anne Arundel County, down 2,000 units, or 66 percent, and Baltimore County, down 970 units, or 41 percent.

Jurisdictions that showed an increase in permit activity were Baltimore City, where 380 units have been authorized this year, compared with only 16 in the first half of last year, and Howard County, where 1,154 units have been permitted, 75 percent more than the 660 units permitted in the first half of 1990.

The increase in Baltimore was largely due to the start of work on the 252-unit first tower of the HarborView condominium community in South Baltimore. Permits were up in Howard County because a county-imposed building cap limited the number of permits issued there last year, the council said.

The Baltimore area has also seen a 20 percent decline in non-residential construction activity, with $194 million in new projects permitted in the first half of this year, compared with $241 million worth of projects permitted during the same period a year earlier. For the past six years, an average of $251 million in construction work has been permitted during the first six months of each year, according to council records.

The biggest decline in non-residential construction activity was in Anne Arundel County, where permits were issued for $14.1 million in new projects during the first half of 1991, compared with $56 million worth of construction activity permitted during the first half of 1990.

Harford County had the biggest gain in non-residential construction activity, with $67 million in new projects permitted during the first half of this year, up from a figure of nearly $39 million worth of new projects during the first half of 1990.

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