For the cities of Sherman and Denison, 2017 proved to be a banner year in regard to housing development and growth. Following in line with trends set over the past four years, both cities reported more than 150 permits for the construction of new single-family homes.

“It has been decades since we've seen this level of consistent growth,” Sherman City Manager Robby Hefton said.

Since 2014, the city of Sherman has seen more than 100 permits for new residential construction each year, with the number of permits growing each year, Hefton said. For 2017, the city reported a total of 170 permits for residential construction, making this the best year in this latest cycle of growth.

Hefton attributed the recent high demand in housing to a number of factors, including the growth in local industries and the northern expansion of development in the Metroplex, specifically from Collin and Denton counties.

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For 2017, the city of Denison issued a total of 153 single-family residential building permits. Planning and Zoning Manager Steven Doss said many of these permits are for subdivisions located in the Gateway Village Development at the former of FM 691 and U.S. Highway 75. Beyond the permits in Gateway Village, Doss said the city also saw 28 permits connected to the city's ongoing affordable housing program.

This program offers incentives to developers to construct low-cost affordable houses on infill lots by offering free lots, reduced or waived permitting fees and free use of city roll-off containers for trash and debris, among other perks. The homes must be marketed and sold for a value based on local income numbers. Recently, this has held at about $105,000.

Hefton said Sherman's growth has been seen across the city, but noted several subdivisions have seen significant growth throughout the year. Among these hot spots for growth are the Austin Landing subdivision, located near the Sherman Town Center, and the third phase of the Pebblebrook development on the west side of the city.

In mid-December, housing became a greater focus when Finisar, a developer of vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers, announced plans to start production in the former MEMC building and employ about 500 workers at the facility. This followed the announcement that Finisar would receive $390 million from Apple for the research and development of its laser technology.

While this announcement will likely have implications for the housing market going into 2018, Hefton said the growth seen in recent years has been multiple smaller expansions of area employers. As an example, he said Kaiser Aluminum, Eaton and other employers have seen modest, but frequent, expansions in their workforce.

“Each of them aren't adding hundreds of jobs each, but they are adding 50 jobs here, 70 jobs there and another 30 jobs here,” Hefton said.

Like with Sherman, 2017 was the latest year in a recent housing boom in Denison that has extended back since around 2015, when the city issued more than 50 permits for residential home construction for the first time in more than a decade. Not to be outdone, the city doubled its record-breaking year in 2016 when it doubled that number.

Like Hefton, Doss attributed the recent growth to several factors including the region's open jobs and migration north from the Metroplex.

“We are our own region as Sherman-Denison up here, but I think we are seeing a lot of this growth coming north from Dallas.”

In addition to seeing an increase in new homes being developed in the city, Sherman has also seen a steady increase in the value of each unit in recent years. From a value standpoint, Hefton said the average value of a new home itself is about $160,000, not including the value of the lot and construction. When these are included, Hefton said the value of the new homes comes close to about $200,000.

With regard to multi-family housing development, Hefton said 2017 saw less traction and movement compared to recent years, but said several projects are under early development, and he expects to have news and progress in 2018.

Despite the high need for single-family housing in the area, Doss said he feels that the production has grown to the point that it is able to keep up with the demand. As an evidence of this, he noted that while prices for homes have risen, it has not seen the increase that has been seen closer to the Metroplex itself.

“If we weren't keeping up, we'd be seeing an explosion in that growth by now,” he said.

As 2017 quickly transitions into 2018, Doss said one project Denison staff is considering is adjustments that can be made to city zoning guidelines specifically for multi-family developments in areas zoned as such within the city's infill district. With many of these lots, a small apartment building or other multi-family development could provide additional housing options in empty lots with small changes to some requirements.