It is the second consecutive year of increased building activity; Wilsonville represents 10 percent of all state building activity

Wilsonville certainly seems to be bucking a statewide sluggish building trend, based on new figures released last week.

The city reported a second consecutive year of high building activity in both the public and private sectors based on the value of construction activity in 2012, with a total value reaching nearly $125.4 million. That’s the third-highest permit valuation on record, behind $139.5 million set in 2011 and $127 million in 2001.

“The city of Wilsonville represented 10 percent of all building activity in the state of Oregon last year,” said City Manager Bryan Cosgrove, “which, for a small city, is pretty amazing.”

In fact, Wilsonville’s population is only one-tenth of 1 percent of the state’s population, but its building activity represents a much different picture.

“Even during the economic downturn, we were issuing building permits for single-family residential when most cities weren’t issuing any, at least for cities of our size,” Cosgrove said.

In spite of the slow economy, the city reported that it issued 733 building permits totaling $97.7 million for the second highest-value year of private-sector construction in the city’s history, or nearly two-thirds greater than the past 10 years’ average amount of $60.3 million. In 2011, the city experienced record private-sector construction worth $128 million.

The city also reported that the combined $125 million private and public investments in Wilsonville for 2012 sustained an estimated 1,350 to 1,700 jobs in various sectors of the economy, including construction contractors, suppliers, delivery services and more.

“I think that these numbers show that business and investment is attracted to a community that has maintained high local standards,” said Mayor Tim Knapp, “while working hard to strike the right balance between sustainability and long-term growth.”

This high amount of building activity eventually will benefit the city’s bottom line.

Joanne Ossanna, the city’s finance director, said the city’s increase in property tax revenue from the 2012 building activity will be determined by the county’s assessed value of the program, which will not be completed until later this year.

“But the city anticipates an increase of approximately $100,000 in property tax revenue to the general fund and an increase of approximately $360,000 to the Westside Urban Renewal District.”

The Wilsonville Area Chamber of Commerce also is seeing record growth — reaching 500 members by the end of 2012 — and attributes much of that to new construction. Some new members include Holland Partner Group, O’Reilly’s Auto Parts and Jimmy Johns.

“Holland Partner Group alone has made a huge investment in this community,” said Wilsonville Chamber Chief Executive Officer Steve Gilmore. “This great chamber member is responsible for more than half of the new residential construction in Wilsonville and they have been a great partner.”

The city issued permits for 288 multifamily units with a value of $26.2 million, primarily for Holland’s development just north of Jory Trail at the Grove, a development located on the former Thunderbird site. Homebuilders applied for 101 building permits for new single-family dwellings — mostly in Villebois — with a total valuation of $22.5 million.

“We’ve been seeing a pretty good uptick of permit activity for single-family residential, mostly in Villebois,” Cosgrove said. “I think we had 50 plans dropped off in one day. Most of those are from Polygon, but also Lennar and a few from Legend. We also have a little subdivision called Copper Creek off Canyon Creek Road, and they submitted plans for four to five homes.”

The city said it issued an “exceptionally high number” of permits totaling 314 for additions and tenant improvements for nonresidential buildings. Highlights include $3.2 million for Oregon Tech, which is leasing private office space in the former InFocus building; $1.5 million in improvements to the Willamette Crossing building on Miley Road; $1 million for Pacific Natural Foods warehouse improvements to the former Nike distribution center.

New commercial and industrial activity totaled $19 million in valuation, as reported by the city of Wilsonville. Four building permits were issued for new commercial and industrial buildings:

* The new Mentor Graphics data center accounted for more than 80 percent, or $15.4 million, of the total.

* The two-story, 19-500-square-foot Boone Building was valued at $2.5 million.

* Two new community centers are under construction at Jory Trail at the Grove ($618,000) and Villebois ($518,000).

Finally, a total of 26 permits, with a value of $800,000, were issued for major renovations or additions to existing single-family homes.

But the public sector is not to be forgotten as constant building activity has bolstered the city’s bottom line as well.

Among the $27.7 million projects for which permits were issued in 2012:

* The city’s renovated and enlarged wastewater treatment plant, valued at $19.3 million

* Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue’s new fire station and command center on S.W. Elligsen Road, valued at $4.8 million

* The city’s new South Metro Area Regional Transit (SMART) and fleet operations and maintenance facility, opening next week, is valued at $3.5 million (for construction).

Gilmore said the SMART facility is a great investment for the community, even though it doesn’t contribute property taxes. He credited former and current city councilors for their efforts in getting it built.

“This building is going to be a highly-efficient tool in continuing to provide free bus service for the residents of Wilsonville,” Gilmore said.

Knapp said last week at a legislative open house that Wilsonville’s track record is strong.

“We continue to have a lot of interest in businesses moving here,” he said. “And we have our own freshwater plant and a new wastewater plant. So, we’re positioned very well in a lot of ways.”

Knapp also said the city needs to think of its next major development.

“We need to start thinking 10 years down the road,” he said.

How Wilsonville fits in

Top 8 cities in Oregon by population

1. Portland – 587,865

2. Eugene – 158,335

3. Salem – 156,455

4. Gresham – 105,970

5. Hillsboro – 92,550

6. Beaverton – 91,205

7. Bend – 77,455

8. Medford – 75,545

Oregon’s midsize cities

19. Tualatin – 26,120

20. West Linn – 25,370

21. Woodburn – 24,090

22. Newberg – 22,300

23. Roseburg – 21,920

24. Klamath Falls – 21,465

25. Forest Grove – 21,460

26. Wilsonville – 20,515

27. Milwaukie – 20,435

28. Ashland – 20,325

29. Sherwood – 18,265

30. Central Point – 17,275

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