Danedri Thompson
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While area home builders are encouraged by housing starts to date in 2012, Gardner officials don’t anticipate booming growth in single family homes this year.

Melissa Mundt, assistant city administrator, said planners are projecting issuing 35 building permits this year.

“So down on the single family permits,” she said. “But we’re up drastically on the commercial side.”

Part of the uptick in commercial building is related to the school bond issue, but city officials also anticipate a permit request from QuikTrip within the year.

Last year, the city approved 88 residential unit permits. Of those, 40 were for single-family homes and 48 were related to expansion at Bethel Estates.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas reported a sharp increase in residential permits in both January and February. February’s housing numbers metro-wide are the strongest in four years with 182 starts.

“Lenders are coming back into the market and we’re seeing increased interest from builders,” Executive Vice President of the Homebuilders of Greater Kansas City, Sara Corless, said in a statement. “It’s nice to see a notable uptick.”

Despite slightly lower projections locally for the year, February was a bright spot for Gardner. Planners issued two building permits in February compared to zero in February 2011. They also issued two in January 2012 and two to date in March, which exactly mirrors numbers from 2011 for both months.

Even with slight gains, the increase in building permits remains a far cry from its precipice. That year, 2004, Gardner issued 563 building permits of which 443 were single family residents.

City planners don’t anticipate reaching those numbers between now and 2014. Mundt cautioned that the numbers are projections, but she said officials anticipate issuing permits for 150 units, commercial and residential, in 2014.

“And these are just projections,” she said. “And that’s assuming some other type of residential area gets going.”

Recently, developers have been asking questions about land at 167th Street and Moonlight Road.

“We’re assuming we’ll see movement on that ground,” she said.

In the meantime, city officials hope to issue a building permit for QuikTrip to be located just west of Price Chopper sometime this summer as they await what development the completion of the intermodal may bring next fall.

“Once the intermodal gets going, it will be interesting to see what happens in this region,” Mundt said. “We’re assuming very conservative numbers. That way we don’t end up with not having the funds come in without having the expenditures.”