The Villages Daily Sun

County Building Permits Surging Upward

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Posted: Monday, October 16, 2017 12:45 pm

Construction growth took a strong upturn in Sumter County during the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

Growth in the Village of Fenney, along with some fill-in development in a few other Villages neighborhoods, primarily accounted for the gain.

The county’s Planning Department issued 1,527 residential building permits over that 12-month period with a value of about $428 million, Development Services Director Karl Holley said.

In comparison, the county department issued 1,061 residential building permits, with a value of about $321 million, in fiscal-year 2015-16, he said.

‘The Village of Fenney is the primary component,” Holley said. “So development is back on the upswing. Our anticipation is that the numbers for fiscal-year 2017-18 will be well above the numbers for 2016-17.”

One reason accounts for Holley’s optimism — The Villages presently possesses entitlements to build up to 14,000 residential units.

“So, we’re looking at development being on an upturn,” he said.

One new piece of data highlights the value of this growth, too.

The county’s year-over-year value of documentary tax stamps assessed on home deeds increased in August by 28 percent to nearly $1.1 million, according to the Florida Department of Revenue.

In other growth news, the Leesburg City Commission at its Oct. 9 meeting approved sending to state planners for review two proposed city ordinances that would govern The Villages development of the 2,600-acre Villages of West Lake property north and south of County Road 470 along the east side of Florida’s Turnpike. One of the ordinances proposes an amendment to the city’s master land use plan that would create the development category of age-restricted under the federal Fair Housing Act. The other ordinance would amend the city’s future land use map to classify West Lake as an age-restricted community from the current classification for industrial and technology use. The sale of this surplus city land to The Villages is contingent on a due-diligence review that could be completed as early as the end of the year.

Also: The Lady Lake Town Commission votes at 7 o’clock this evening on the second and final reading of La Plaza Grande North revitalization plan. The commissioners voted unanimously following a first reading at the Oct. 2 meeting to move forward on the plan to demolish five buildings and replace them with three new ones in this original business district of Orange Blossom Gardens, which later became The Villages. The project earned the development staff’s recommendation and unanimous approval by the town’s Planning & Zoning Board, too. Under vested and current land uses, the revitalization would result in a 34 percent reduction in vehicle traffic, according to the application.

Also: The number of Social Security beneficiaries in The Villages metropolitan statistical area offered new insight into reasons for The Villages’ continuing growth, according to a year-end report recently released by the Social Security Administration.

Around 3,000 residents in the MSA, which includes all of Sumter but not The Villages in Lake or Marion counties, enrolled in the federal entitlement program during 2016, a year-over-year increase of around 4.6 percent. Those new enrollees accounted for almost $5.9 million in additional retirement dollars flowing each month into the MSA. In total, 67,785 residents account for about $1.2 billion per year in Social Security dollars being spent or saved within the MSA.

Also: Daily Sun readers recently learned about another big reason the community continues to grow at such a rapid pace. The Villages MSA leads the state in home value recovery from the Great Recession. While it didn’t lose too much value during the national residential real estate collapse, the community has returned to a normal level of home values, according to Irvine, California-based CoreLogic, a real estate data and analytics company. The Villages MSA also is the only market in Florida now neither undervalued nor overvalued.

Also: Those homes values, along with strong population growth, account for the commercial development taking place in nearly every one of The Villages’ retail centers, including Spanish Plaines, site of the Publix revitalization project; Mulberry Grove Plaza, where the new Cody’s Original Roadhouse is under construction; Buffalo Ridge Plaza, site of the PetSmart project; Colony Plaza, site of Expedia CruiseShipCenters, which is expected to open this month; Lake Deaton, where Clark’s Pump-n-Shop Marathon station is moving quickly toward an opening; and Brownwood, where the Brownwood Care Center is opening this week.

Also: To illustrate the vitality of population growth, The Villages welcomed about 1,725 new neighbors just from March through August. That means 115,656 people now live in the Lake, Marion and Sumter county sections of The Villages. Of the total, 10,416 residents live in Marion, 14,355 in Lake and 90,885 in Sumter.

Also: That population growth accounts for why The Villages metropolitan statistical area recently ranked as the country’s ninth fastest-growing economy in 2016, with a year-over-year 6 percent gain in gross domestic product, according to the federal Bureau of Labor statistics. GDP in the MSA closed out the year at $2.3 billion.

 David Corder is a senior writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 9066, or david.corder@thevillagesmedia.com.