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January 14, 2013

Strong growth in building projects

NEWBURYPORT — Real-estate values of existing homes have remained robust here in the past year, and now it appears that that the “construction alteration and repair” market is beginning to rebound.

The value of building permits rose from $41,379,940 in 2011 to $46,798,692, according to city officials. There were 628 permits extended in 2012 and 551 approved in 2011.

Municipal leaders say that a major private construction project in 2012 was a high-end residential subdivision on Russell Terrance extension (off Storey Avenue) with close to two dozen houses. The structures, built by Green and Co. of North Hampton, N.H., listed at $485,000 and above.

In the sub-category of alteration/repair, the total (part of the above figures) rose from $30,182,014 in 2011 to $37,379,692 in 2012.

The amount of permit fees collected in 2012 was $375,644, which is down from 2011 when the figure was $397,674.

But Planning Department clerks note that municipal projects don’t pay fees to the city.

For instance, much construction took place in 2012 on the wastewater treatment plant and the reconstruction of the municipal clearwell (water source) but permit fees were not collected for such public-service projects.

“We probably hit a bottom in 2009,” said Gary Calderwood, municipal building inspector and codes administrator. “In the past few years we’ve been coming back and 2012 was definitely a busy year.

“We’ve had the new subdivision, additions and repairs, plus commercial buildings have been approved.”

In 2012, there were seven demolitions with a project cost of $55,000. In 2011, a total of 14 demolitions were approved, for a value of $141,750.

At least one new tenant is preparing to open and possibly repair a closed space, and that would be the proprietor of the former Middle Street Foods who is opening . . . Middle Street Foods again.

Indeed, restaurateur Justin Radulski is opening Middle Street Foods at 25 Middle St. for the third time. She estimated former tenures were from 1999-2004 and from about 1985 to “sometime in the ‘90s.”

“We’re shooting to open sometime in February,” said Radulski yesterday, as she moved furniture and cleaned the once popular venue.

At least two properties in the community are empty: a former personal-fitness suite at 80 State St. and the farm store on Low Street, across from the entrance to the Shaw’s Plaza. It has a large For Sale sign on the front lawn.

Port construction

2011 2012

Building permits 551 628

Permit values $41,379,940 $46,798,692

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