For the city of Denison, the past two years have seen a boom in housing with back-to-back record-breaking years for single-family housing permits. With only five months in the books, 2017 is on track to continue this trend by breaking last year’s record, city officials said this week.
The news came as part of Denison City Manager Jud Rex’s most recent report to city staff and the city council. The report found that the city issued 198 total building permits in May, including 14 new single-family homes, with a value of $2 million in residential development.
This brings the city to 73 new residential building permits for the year, Development Services Director Gabe Reaume said. This is about 10 to 12 more than the city had issued this time last year, he said.
“We are definitely on pace to beat our record from 2016,” Reaume said. “Gateway Village is still going strong … affordable housing is still going strong, and other lots in existing subdivisions are being snatched up. It is just strong growth across the city.”
Denison’s housing boom started in 2015 when the city issued 58 single-family building permits, marking the highest number in over a decade. Just one year later, the city broke this record when it issued 115 permits for the year.
“We are excited to see that the growth is sustained over a few years and not just a blip,” Rex said Monday.
The city of Sherman is also reporting an increased number of housing permits in 2017. Through the month of May, Sherman has issued 68 permits for new residential construction — a 45 percent increase over this time last year, Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said Monday. Strauch attributed the growth in housing to northern migration from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and jobs growth in Texoma.
“Even with home builders working at that feverish pace, we can’t seem to keep up,” he said in an email. “The market for both new and existing homes is red hot, and it shows no signs of abating as this type of growth is projected to continue for years to come.”
In 2015, the city of Denison conducted a housing survey and assessed the future need of housing in the region. The survey found that the region could support the construction of 500 new single-family homes each year for the foreseeable future.
Reaume attributed the recent growth in housing to a favorable economy within the region and the growth of local employers, notably recent and announced expansions at Texoma Medical Center. In late 2016, TMC officials announced a $50 million expansion of the hospital complex complete with a new tower and an expansion of the emergency department.
Other contributing factors include the relocation of many major employers, including most recently Toyota, to the Metroplex.
Additionally, Reaume said the city and region as a whole has been experiencing a housing shortfall for the past several years and is still in the process of catching up.
Rex added that he has also spoken to individuals who are moving to Denison upon retirement in an attempt to get away from the crowded Metroplex.
In terms of price, Reaume said new homes in some of the subdivisions within Gateway Village, located near the northwest corner of FM 691 and U.S. Highway 75 have been selling for $115 per square foot or higher. Last week, the Denison Planning & Zoning Commission approved the plat of the second phase of development in the Fawn Meadows subdivision within Gateway Village. The second phase promises to bring an additional 61 homes to Denison’s housing stock.
“Everywhere else is strong enough that it isn’t going below $100 a square foot,” Reaume said.
Due to these high prices and demand, Reaume said the city is looking to implement incentives for major residential renovation projects later this fall. Through these incentives, Reaume said the city hopes to encourage growth, reinvestment and redevelopment within the city’s existing housing stock.
“The fact that we can command $100 a square foot really helps encourage the rehabilitation of the existing homes,” he said. “It helps demonstrate that the housing market is there for that.”
Rex said a part of the city’s success in encouraging housing development in recent years has come through the city’s affordable housing program. This initiative by the city encourages the development of low-cost, affordable homes in existing neighborhoods through reduced permitting fees, relaxed building standards and other perks.
However, in recent months the number of available lots for the program has dropped due to the program’s popularity. In an attempt to find additional lots for the program, some developers have turned to using lots that were never platted with the city. This led to P&Z recently expanding the program to include these lots for incentive purposes.
Rex said the city has been trying to acquire additional lots through sheriff and tax sales, but has been competing with developers who are trying to acquire the same lots for the program. Despite this shortage, Rex said he expected the program to continue going strong in 2017.
“I think builders are being creative on how and where they acquire properties and we just want to help them with that,” he said.
As the city continues to grow, Rex said city officials will need to re-evaluate and assess the needs and position of the city. A part of this includes the ongoing work to update the city’s comprehensive plan — a document that outlines desired future conditions, development and land use within the city.
“In the near term, I think we are good, but in the long term, I think we need to better position ourselves for future growth,” Rex said, referring to the plan.