Summit County has issued fewer building permits in 2018 than in 2017 | ParkRecord.com

Summit County has issued fewer building permits in 2018 than in 2017

As the construction season begins to wind down in Summit County, one could be left with the impression that the industry has slowed down if they go by the numbers. But, Summit County officials say that doesn't tell the whole story.

The construction business has fluctuated since roughly 2014, which was deemed a turn-around year in the county with numbers mirroring pre-recession figures. The number of licenses and permits issued for new projects dipped slightly in 2015 and 2016. But, those figures ended up peaking in 2017.

Robert Taylor, Summit County's chief building official, said whether numbers are up or down depends on which statistic you quote. His interpretation is that the number of permits is down about 10 percent, which is supported by a decrease in total valuation for 2018.

According to the Building Department, 862 permits were issued through September, bringing in a combined value of about $161.8 million. The permits generated about $1.8 million in fees, about 78 percent of the previous year's mark. The permits through September of 2017 tallied about $208 million in combined value.

Through the end of September of this year, approximately 12,937 inspections had been performed, however, which is up from the 10,683 logged at the same point last year.

"The reason the number of inspections is up in 2018 compared to 2017 is because in the later months of 2017 we issued about 20 large permits of substantial valuation," Taylor said, referring to several projects in the Canyons Village at Park City Mountain Resort. "However, the actual work is being performed in 2018."

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Several projects commenced in 2018, including Discovery Core, approved for the area just south of Kilby Road and the Weilenmann School of Discovery, and Silver Creek Village Center, a 240-acre residential and commercial town center slated for the southeast corner of Interstate 80 and U.S. 40.

Others included Woodward Park City, an action sports camp slated for the hillside adjacent to Gorgoza Park; the Preserve at Newpark, a seven-unit condominium project approved for the lot in front of Maxwell's East Coast Eatery; and athlete housing at the Utah Olympic Park.

Projects were already underway in the Snyderville Basin and at the Canyons Village at Park City Mountain Resort, including Quarry Springs at the entrance of the Pinebrook neighborhood and Lift, a 61-unit project adjacent to the Sunrise Life at the Canyons Village.

Much of the construction was spurred by the Summit County Council's 2017 approval of the new Canyons Village Master Plan. The plan reconfigures approximately 2.3 million of square feet of development in the upper and lower village. The change in layout of the base area involves more hotels, a parking garage, workforce housing and additional amenities for guests.

Anecdotally, Taylor said, there is no indication that the work is slowing. He acknowledged the varying statistics, but said the long-term trend shows continued development and growth.

Taylor pointed to the number of housing units that have been proposed in the Snyderville Basin, particularly in the Silver Creek Village Center.

"I can't imagine how growth will not continue," he said. "Development of that number of housing units over the next five to 10 years will of course necessitate the construction of a supporting commercial base, along with schools and churches proximate to the new residential neighborhoods."

Construction-related revenues have long boosted the county's budget. But, estimates for 2019 are showing a continued drop. Building permit revenues are tracking below the four-year low for 2019, according to a county report prepared as part of the 2019 budget discussions.

Taylor said he still expects the construction industry to remain strong, though.

"Those large projects along with the truly custom homes of 10,000 to 35,000 square feet seem to be unaffected by local economic conditions," he said.