Building permits are up in North Port, reaching a five year high. City officials say it's more than double what they thought it would be. Those working to develop the city say it's a very good sign for better jobs to come.
North Port Building Official Bryan Holland says his department is busy. "We've issued about twice as many single family dwelling units as we expected."
31 in August. More than 240 for the year. The vast majority in places like Island Walk in the western side of the city. Single lot neighborhoods have also seen roughly 1,100 partially constructed homes sitting idle get completed. "Those permits have been reactivated and taken over by another contractor or developer. Like I said, we have reduced about 1,000 of those."
"When you start seeing housing construction start to pick up it's good for everyone." Peter Bartolotta heads the North Port Economic Development Corporation. He says it means more jobs for the construction industry and others. "When you bring in those individuals they need their lawn mowed, they go out and buy their goods, they need the local computer shop to get their computers repaired. It helps the small business as well as the bigger businesses."
Bartolotta says the North Port EDC is hoping it's the beginning of bigger and better things. They're currently touting a plan with upwards of $770 million worth of construction and projects throughout the city. Generating more than 1,700 jobs. "We are looking to bring higher paying jobs to the market. I think more housing will bring more available work force. Our focus is on education, medical, and eco-tourism."
So far this year commercial development is lagging behind expectations but Holland says a number of projects are in the works. For now many are just happy to see a number of neighborhoods coming together. "When you see these homes built out and completed with landscaping and trees it just makes the community feel more whole."
Building officials don't see an end in sight. In fact they themselves are hiring more to keep up with inspections.