Less money being used to build

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E’town, Radcliff see reduced construction spending

By Marty Finley


By MARTY FINLEY mfinley@thenewsenterprise.com ELIZABETHTOWN – As institutions and businesses around the county deal with a sluggish economy, the city of Elizabethtown also is feeling the tug in construction spending. A recent report issued by the Department of Planning and Development shows that construction spending is down for 2008. While permits are staying fairly consistent, the amount of revenue is down from last year. The report showed that April and June figures easily surpassed last year’s totals for those same months, but a near $12.6 million total for March of last year and a near $22 million total in July of last year eclipsed any single-month totals this year. By comparison, in July this year there was $6.2 million in construction costs for commercial and residential in Elizabethtown. Mayor David Willmoth said fluctuations in construction are not uncommon. No new retailers are coming to the area at the moment, Planning Director Ed Poppe said, meaning commercial construction also is suffering in the short term. In terms of residential development, Poppe said more and more permits are being purchased for basement finishes, home restorations and other maintenance projects. The city also has dealt with a few dismal months, such as February, which totaled less than $1 million in construction spending compared to about $6.5 million last year. One of the primary reasons for last year’s success was the contract for the Heartland Elementary School along Ring Road. The $13.6 million project was the key to July’s blossoming bottom line, Poppe said. The Kohl’s and Sam’s Club projects of recent years also provided for better numbers in previous years, but Poppe said there is no large commercial project or subdivision development on the horizon that will turn the situation around quickly. Elizabethtown isn’t the only city seeing declines in Hardin County. Radcliff numbers show construction is down as well, particularly residential. Radcliff Planning Director Steve Barno said there are several subdivision developments ready and waiting for homes to be built. However, the city has yet to see the influx of people from the Fort Knox realignment. He said contractors are being prudent not to move forward on the homes too soon. Commercial contracts have been lagging in Radcliff for years, Barno said, but they are witnessing an upswing with the addition of some new businesses, including a new Walgreen’s and Holiday Inn Express. Poppe said that Elizabethtown has the potential to fare better than other cities in the future as BRAC continues to progress at Fort Knox. However, he said there were no guarantees of a quick turnaround. He said the increased price of gas, food and other essentials are forcing many to prioritize. “Everybody adjusts and makes changes,” he said. Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762.