Home per­mits soar­ing, plan­ners re­tir­ing at city

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Home­build­ing is on the up­swing in Santa Fe. From the be­gin­ning of Oc­to­ber 2017 to late Jan­uary 2018, build­ing con­trac­tors ob­tained 102 per­mits for sin­gle-fam­ily homes in the City of Santa Fe. That’s a 67 per­cent in­crease over the same pe­riod a year ago. The change in Santa Fe County per­mits was much more mod­est, but was still sig­nif­i­cant: up 20 per­cent.

Of the 102 re­cently is­sued city per­mits, 32 were for the Pulte Homes sub­di­vi­sions at Las Sol­eras. The me­dian price for those projects is $308,500.

Two-thirds of the other city per­mits were ac­quired by three com­pa­nies:

— 14 for MTV En­ter­prises in the Cielo Azul Sub­di­vi­sion on Via del Sol and Via del Cielo; with a me­dian price of $215,000.

— 14 for Home­wise on Paseo Co­ra­zon and Har­ri­son Road — also south of Agua Fria Street, but on the east side of Siler Road; with a me­dian price of $178,000.

— 10 for Next Gen­er­a­tion Con­tract­ing in the Vis­tas Boni­tas Sub­di­vi­sion just west of Ramirez Thomas Ele­men­tary School; with a me­dian price of $161,000.

Reed Lim­ing, di­rec­tor of the Long Range Plan­ning Di­vi­sion in the city’s LandUse De­part­ment, said the boost in sin­gle-fam­ily per­mits is also dra­matic if com­pared an­nu­ally: 163 in 2016 and 245 last year, a 50 per­cent in­crease. Pulte be­gan get­ting build­ing per­mits in Au­gust 2016 and had 46 by the end of that year, then pulled 91 last year. Twi­light Homes se­cured 20 per­mits in 2016 for CieloAzul and 43 last year.

Con­trac­tors are still ham­pered by tight loan rules. “It’s in­ter­est­ing to watch as we come out of this trough of the re­ces­sion, how­much of a lag there is be­tween the sup­ply of hous­ing tight­en­ing up and new con­struc­tion com­ing on­line,” Lim­ing com­mented. “Pulte, a na­tional builder, can get its cap­i­tal, but I still hear anec­do­tally from peo­ple that money is tighter for con­struc­tion for lo­cal buy­ers. And then what does that mean? Gen­er­ally that means prices will con­tinue to go up if new homes are not avail­able be­cause lo­cal builders are hav­ing a tough time get­ting the fund­ing.

“Kim Shana­han [di­rec­tor of the lo­cal builder as­so­ci­a­tion and a mem­ber of the city’s Long-Range Plan­ning Sub-Com­mit­tee] and I were al­ways try­ing to guessti­mate how fast Pulte could build. I was think­ing con­ser­va­tively, but they just popped” start­ing in late 2016. “I be­lieve we’ve is­sued more than 140 per­mits for homes out there. I’d love to know what per­cent­age of those buy­ers are lo­cal. They got their mas­ter plan right be­fore the econ­omy crashed in 2008, so it took a while. be­fore they got go­ing.”

Lim­ing, who has been with the city since 1995, is about to re­tire. So is se­nior plan­ner Richard MacPher­son, the Long Range Plan­ning Di­vi­sion’s other staff mem­ber. In a meet­ing in late Fe­bru­ary, Shana­han was al­ready lament­ing the im­pend­ing de­par­tures in the im­por­tant plan­ning of­fice. “They’re both re­tir­ing at the same time,” he said, “which means there’s go­ing to be zero in­sti­tu­tional mem­ory.”

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