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Building permits in Garden City down in 2011

Published 4/2/2012 in Progress

New GPCU headquarters among city's newest buildings.

BY DEREK THOMPSON

dthompson@gctelegram.com

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Brad Nading/Telegram A crew from Lee Construction works on demolishing the old Golden Plains Credit Union building west of the new facility in the 1700 block of East Kansas Avenue.

Brad Nading/Telegram A crew from Lee Construction works on demolishing the old Golden Plains Credit Union building west of the new facility in the 1700 block of East Kansas Avenue.

With 1,290 building permits filed in Garden City, 2011 was a down year for the overall building environment.

That's according to Kaleb Kentner, director of Planning and Community Development with the city of Garden City.

According to the 2011 Planning Community Development Annual Report, 1,290 building permits were filed in Garden City, down from 1,492 in 2010 and 1,966 in 2009. Those permit numbers include various types: single-family residential, single-family manufactured, multi-family, residential remodel, commercial, industrial, commercial and industrial remodels, and miscellaneous permits such as utility, religious, public or nonprofit projects.

The number of residential single-family permits is the barometer by which the department gauges development, Kentner said.

"As long as you're having new single-family residential being constructed, you're doing good. That means things are moving forward and people are adding to your community," he said. "When that number drops down below a certain number, that gets difficult to say where our health really is."

According to the 2011 report, 10 single-family residential permits were filed last year. That double-digit number is at the threshold where the health of development becomes an issue. Though that number is low, Kentner said, it is higher than the seven single-family permits filed in 2010. Ten single-family permits were filed in 2009; 10 in 2008; eight in 2007; 12 in 2006; 13 in 2005; and 31 in 2004.

"Back in 2004 is when really we hit a brick wall, in essence. We dropped to less than half of what we were doing prior to 2004," he said.

Kentner attributes the drop off in the number of permits after 2004 due to the fire at the ConAgra beef processing plant in 2000. Families stayed in the area for several years in hope of the plant reopening its doors. When that didn't happen, the number of single-family permits dropped. That, coupled with a tanking economy in 2008, contributed to the area's slump, Kentner said.

The last year did have a few bright spots, however.

Construction of The Reserves at Prairie Ridge on North Campus Drive got under way in late 2011. The planned 32-unit affordable housing complex is the largest project started in 2011, and makes up $2.5 million of the year's $15,452,605 in total building permit valuations. Developed by Overland Property Group, based out of Topeka, the project is expected to be completed in June.

"It's not really big projects, it's a lot of smaller projects that add up to quite a bit," Kentner said.

A total of 50 permits were filed in 2011 in Holcomb for various building projects, according to the annual report. That number is down from 83 total permits in 2010 and 144 in 2009.

In rural Finney County, excluding Garden City and Holcomb, 336 total permits were filed in 2011. That number is slightly higher than the 2010 total of 319, though it is lower than the 404 permits filed in 2009.

While 2011 was a down year for construction projects, two major projects that started in 2010 continued into 2011 and 2012. The $92.5 million new Garden City High School, coupled with the $7.4 million new Golden Plains Credit Union headquarters, saw major changes to Garden City's building environment.

Golden Plain's 48,757-square-foot corporate headquarters officially opened with a late March grand opening. The two-story facility has changed the landscape of East Kansas Avenue. The former Golden Plains building and four adjacent homes were razed to make room for the new facility.

Expanding the former building had been a long-term goal at the credit union. In the 1980s, the credit union purchased the four residential buildings and leased them out with the intent of eventually razing and expanding the headquarters.

Erich Schaefer, member-president with Golden Plains, said the credit union considered a temporary fix of adding on to the former building. That building already had been expanded twice before, and another addition would give the building about 10 more years until more space was needed. Another expansion just didn't make economical sense, Schaefer said.

"We had a lot of pent up demand for some staff. Since we moved into this building, we added 11 1/2 positions — 11 full-time and a part-time position. We had that need already, and we just had to do something," Schaefer said.

The new state-of-the art structure includes 10 drive-thru lanes with two ATMs, a customer service call center, a member coffee café, a training facility, an employee fitness center, six teller dialogue stations and an expanded parking lot.

"We wanted it to be noticeable, and we wanted people to look at it and think, 'That's a really nice looking building and how neat is that?' ... We just wanted to be noticed," he said.

Work on the facility began with a groundbreaking ceremony in October 2010, and local contractors did much of the work, Schaefer said.

"About two-thirds to 70 percent of the building costs went to local contractors," Schaefer said.

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