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Building permits continue at fast pace in Gainesville
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Work continues on the new Walton Communities project at the corner of E.E. Butler Parkway and Atlanta Street Thursday afternoon, Nov. 16, 2017, at the site of the former Atlanta Street apartments. Building inspection and permitting numbers are on a fast pace again this year in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

The number of commercial and residential building permits issued in Gainesville this year is keeping pace with records set in 2015 and 2016, a sign of continued growth and demand for housing and jobs in greater Hall County.

“We are on track in 2017 to issue more building permits than we ever have in the city,” said Rusty Ligon, director of the Gainesville Community Development Department. “This includes new construction, additions, remodels, plumbing, electrical and mechanical.”

Twenty-eight commercial permits, which include apartment buildings, have been issued as of Oct. 31 this year, compared with 26 in all of 2015 and 38 in 2016.

Building permits issued in Gainesville

Commercial (new construction only)

2015: 26

2016: 38

2017 (through Oct. 31): 28

Residential (new construction only)

2015: 415

2016: 465

2017 (through Oct. 31): 387

Meanwhile, 387 new residential permits had been issued by the end of October, compared with 415 in all of 2015 and 465 last year.

Ligon said these specific numbers represent only new construction, and not additions, remodels, demolitions and the like.

Gainesville’s code enforcement division has also been busy this year.

As of the end of October, 5,246 code violations and 35 citations had been issued compared with 4,608 code violations and 36 citations in all of 2016.

“2016 yielded lower numbers because we were not fully staffed the first half of the year,” said code enforcement Manager Sarah Wilson-Britt.

Big projects that began or came online this year include a new Department of Transportation regional office off Jesse Jewell Parkway, and Wells Fargo’s move out of its namesake building and into a new branch office in New Holland.

“When my pipeline is full of economic development projects, it’s a real good sign that next 12 months will be strong,” said Tim Evans, vice president of economic development at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce.

He added that growth in manufacturing, health care and information technologies will lead the way.

Gainesville City Councilman George Wangemann said continued economic growth, particularly in the commercial sector, is critical to growing local government’s tax base, reducing crime rates and expanding public services.

“I think they find Gainesville a good place to do business,” he added.

Residential development has been strong, as well.

The first phase of the redevelopment of the former public housing units on Atlanta Street into a mixed-income project by Walton Communities is almost complete.

And The Enclave townhomes on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive will see their first tenants come December.

Evans said he expects 2018 to be just as strong as recent years, with several big projects in the pipeline, such as a mixed-use development downtown and new growth in the adjacent midtown area.

“People are not going to live here unless they have a place to stay,” Evans said, adding that providing high-density housing, both for ownership and rent, is critical for the long-term trajectory of Gainesville’s growth.

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