Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, February 6, 2015

Analyst predicts fewer building permits in Hamilton County

Dennis Epperson, secretary of the Home Builders Association of Tennessee, installs Win Pratt as the 2015 president of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga. - (Photos by David Laprad)

Building permits in Hamilton County will be down in 2015, says Dale Akins of The Market Edge.

Akins was the guest speaker at the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga (HBA)’s general membership meeting held Thursday, Jan. 29. The Market Edge provides commercial and residential building permit reports as well as local and regional trend reports, among other services. Moving at a breakneck pace through dozens of slides packed with numbers and charts, Akins estimated that Hamilton County will issue about 750 building permits in 2015, down from 919 in 2014.

Akins based his prediction on a lack of job growth in Hamilton County. “The Chattanooga market simply hasn’t recovered from the 2009 recession,” he said. “Volkswagen gave you a bump of 10,000 jobs in 2010, 2011, and 2012, but the last two years have been terrible.”

In 2013 and 2014, Hamilton County lost 3,333 jobs, according to statistics Akins displayed during his talk. The lost jobs in turn have created a slowing trend for building permits, Akins said.

To create the demand for 750 permits, Akins said Hamilton County will need to produce 750 jobs in 2015.

Local builder Jay Bell of Bell Development is taking a different view of the demand for new construction in the coming year. “Dale based his estimates on a conservative view of what the job market in Hamilton County is going to do in 2015,” he told the Hamilton County Herald. “We’re hoping to see more growth out of the Volkswagen announcement and continued growth of other local businesses.”

Akins predicted Hamilton County would issue 800 building permits in 2014 – 119 fewer than were ultimately issued. Bell says Akins based that number on an equally conservative view.

“We think building permits will remain about the same as they were last year, or even experience a bit of growth,” Bell said. “We have a new school going up, great stuff is happening around UTC, and we’re looking forward to growth in Red Bank due to their new zoning regulations.”

Whereas Akins based his predictions on a conservative model, Bell says his predictions are founded on confidence in the market. “We’re expecting good things to happen,” he said. “If I didn’t wake up every morning with an optimistic outlook, I wouldn’t be a home builder.”

Installation of officers and directors

Prior to Akins’s presentation, the HBA installed its newly elected officers and directors for 2015.

Officers for 2015 include President Win Pratt, Associate Vice President Paula Palmer, Treasurer Mike Croxall, Secretary Bell, and Immediate Past President Ethan Collier.

Directors include Nina Boss, Joe Bozich, Ronda Van Billiard, Elaine Burt, Tim Burns, Tom Carmichael, Jordan Cornelison, Bobby Cronan, Lenny Delius, Karen Flores, Stuart Gaines, Frank Goodwin, Marty Hilliard, Amber James, Gus Issa, Dale Mabee, David Matthews, Mike Moon, Dennis Neal, Barry Payne, Vicki Schambron, Ramona Scott, Sherman Smith, Gabe Thomas, Jeremy Toliver, Trae Vaughn, Brandon Waters, and Terry West.

Life directors include Colman Hochman, Don Moon, and Harold Payne.

The HBA will now turn its attention to preparing for the 49th Annual Tri-State Home Show, scheduled to take place Friday, March 13 through Sunday, March 15. For booth information, call 624-9992. 

To see more photos, pick up a copy of the Hamilton County Herald.