Rise in new housing starts, construction permits a good sign for Jasper economy

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JASPER - A regional homebuilder with offices in Atlanta, Birmingham, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh has broken ground on a new construction site in Jasper, that will produce 35-50 new homes. This homebuilder has over 40 years of experience in the new home construction business and is widely recognized for constructing quality homes at affordable prices in high demand areas with healthy growth potential. Investing in the long range prospects of a community is what they do, and they don’t make those investments lightly. This is just one of several positive stories of new build, renovation and property rehab permits being on the rise this year. 

A little more than a year ago, Jasper Mayor David O’Mary specified the development of affordable well-built homes as a part of his five-year plan and decided to assemble a group of professionals as an advisory team to tackle the project.

A few months later, a team made up of local realtors and staff from Alabama Power met and began looking at ways to drive this forward. Since January of this year, and as of this article, 31 residential permits have been issued, 23 office projects, and 5 commercial projects. This is in addition to what is believed to be 35 to 50 more homes in the coming year. What does all this mean in light of the environment we are all living in today? Jaspers prospects are strong, the opportunity to sustain and rebound from this current economic situation is viable and positive, and growth is in the cards for the city as a whole. 

“We met a few times and were presented with the opportunity to meet with folks from development companies around the southeast, which resulted in one strong company reaching out to us. They came to town and began doing their due diligence. Shortly after, they decided Jasper had the kind of future they wanted to be involved in. I think that speaks volumes and the future outlook of our area is positive,” said O’Mary. “It is certainly no doubt directly related to the efforts of our housing team and Alabama Power that we were able to sit down with a developer of this caliber.”

This housing team assembled by the mayor has had to put meetings on hold due to the COVID-19 situation, but were meeting about every 60 days; the last meeting scheduled would have been March of this year. But even without meeting face to face, work has continued through email and telephone. “At Alabama Power, we look for ways to elevate the communities we serve by identifying needs in the area,” said Community Affairs Manager Britton Lightsey. “Through our relationships with local partners, we can make great strides in community and economic development and we are excited about the growth these projects will bring to the Jasper area.”

A regional housing developer is not the only investor building in Jasper these days. Local homebuilders are putting together new housing developments as well. One such development is a 10 home project in the New Prospect Rd area. Another is the continuation of residential builds in the Blackwell Meadows subdivision. And there are a lot of business owners remodeling, renovating and rehabilitating some of the cities older buildings. As you look around town, you will see many businesses updating interiors, and completely redeveloping spaces for different use. In terms of dollars, $31,972,347 worth of projects have been permitted to date inside the city limits. The city has issued a total of 59 new permits, with another 35 likely coming soon. These projects range from new roofs to, complete gutting of existing buildings, to new builds. 

What could this mean for Jasper, as so many people struggle with the effects of a pandemic and even social unrest in much of our country?

“Jasper is on the right track and the development of high quality, affordable housing in desirable areas is a huge boost to economic development and recruitment of industry," O'Mary said. "These strong numbers do not deflect the day to day issues our businesses and residents are dealing with right now, however it provides hope that as we work together through this difficulty, there is reason to believe that in Jasper,  we have a bright future economically.”

While commercial new builds are mainly out on Highway 118, everyone is eagerly watching the rise of both Huddle House and Applebee’s, many renovations are taking place downtown. An example is the building formerly known as “The Rock” has been purchased and is undergoing a significant renovation, complete with dig out and installation of new foundation and flooring. This will become a “node” property, where the single building houses multiple tenants that could be restaurant, office or retail. 

City Planner Keith Pike commented about interest in Jasper prior to the pandemic, stating “Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, interest in commercial/retail development in Jasper was at a level that I haven't seen in some time. Also within the last year, we have seen a significant number of new housing starts. Hopefully that will continue.”

“We continue to work to build new relationships and strengthen others," O'Mary said. "We would not be in this position today without the relationship we have with Alabama Power, local builders, or the support from our local real estate partners. Many thanks to them all and we are excited to continue growing Jasper.”