If all goes as projected, the value of the building permits issued during the first quarter of 2013 will exceed $19 million.
“Building permits will total more this quarter than they did all of last year,” said Grand County’s building inspector Jeff Whitney at the county council meeting held Tuesday, March 5.
The estimates are based on a value of the square footage for the type of building and usage, as well of what they made of, Whitney said. The final value may change when it is assessed by Grand County assessor’s office.
The county office issued 241 permits in 2012. Of those 192 were residential permits valued at $13,963,782 and 49 were commercial valued at $4,213,907. Between the two, there was a total of $18,177,789.
For the first quarter of 2013, $2,847,782 in residential value is projected, while another $16,263,540 is projected for commercial for a total of $19,111,322.
Whitney said that residential permits are staying on par with previous years. It is commercial construction that is skyrocketing.
Arches Fairfield Marriott across the Colorado River next to Canyonlands By Night has 90 units planned.
“If it pans out, they have plans for another 120 units,” Whitney said.
Then there is the Inn of Moab with an additional 91 units to be built across from Rim Supply on 100 North.
Whitney said it is a direct result of the statistics: Tourism is increasing.
The number of hotel rooms in town increased by less than 100 over six years, from 1785 in 2006 to 1855 by the end of 2012. But between the two hotels permitted this quarter, the number will jump by another 181 rooms.
“It’s tourism. That drives our construction,” Whitney said. “It’s just nuts.”
The Grand County travel council said more people are coming to the Moab-area each year.
“Visitation has increased every year,” said Callie Tranter, administrative assistant in the travel council office. “2010 was the first year we hit one million visitors in Arches National Park.”
The number of visitors to the national park has increased each year over the last decade; from 733,131 in 2004 to 1,070,577 in 2012.
Dustin Frandsen, general manager for Moab Property Management, said there is a need for more overnight rentals, particularly during busy weeks.
“It’s busy every year,” Frandsen said. “It’s booked for the Half Marathon, Jeep Safari and the Car Show.”
Moab Property Management has 70 properties for overnight rentals.
“It is definitely going to be a high year for us,” Frandsen said. “People are booking earlier. Even during the normally slower times we have reservations.”
Whitney said an increase in the commercial tax base benefits residents.
“It’s twice as good to have commercial construction when it comes to our tax dollars,” Whitney said.
Commercial property is taxed at 100 percent of the assessed value, while residential property is taxed at 55 percent of the assessed value.
“If we gain like we did this quarter, the tax base spreads and everyone pays less,” he said.
There is also the increase of Transient Room Tax charged on hotel rooms and campsites over the last decade. In 2002 Grand County reaped $672,518. Last year it received a total of $1,913,688.
Whitney said he said that there will be increases in residential building permits as well.
“In single family residences we picked up another $1 million in value this week,” he said.
A condominium project on 400 North has been recently been permitted and a private housing project is in the preliminary stages of planning near where the proposed Utah State University-Moab campus will be on the south side of Moab.