Housing permits rose 14.6% in March

May 12, 1994|By Timothy J. Mullaney | Timothy J. Mullaney,Sun Staff Writer

Building permits for residential construction jumped smartly in the Baltimore area in March, the Baltimore Metropolitan Council said yesterday.

The number of permits for new single-family homes jumped 14.6 percent, council economist Josef Nathanson said. The strongest areas were in Anne Arundel County, where planned unit developments in Odenton and strong activity in Crofton led the way.

The number of permits in March were 968 with a value of $96.6 million, compared with 845 permits and $89.7 million during the same period a year ago.

Mr. Nathanson said higher interest rates haven't yet depressed the building industry, possibly because builders appear to be moving quickly to get homes on the market in case interest rates continue to rise.

"We see the concerns in the market, but they haven't affected plans" so far, he said.

Commercial construction continued its torpid pace of the last several years. Baltimore-area jurisdictions issued permits for about $6.4 million worth of new nonresidential construction, with nearly all of that representing a planned Home Depot on Eastern Avenue in Baltimore and a SuperFresh in Bel Air.

The commercial figure was down 89 percent from the previous March, because a permit for a $59 million addition to the University of Maryland Medical Center was granted in March 1993.

"For single-family, the news is really extremely good," said Michael A. Conte, director of the Regional Economic Studies Program at the University of Baltimore. "Nonresidential is pretty much dead in the water.

Mr. Conte said the short-term outlook, not surprisingly, depends on the short-term path of interest rates.

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