Building slows in August

ELLSWORTH — City officials issued 11 building permits during the month of August, for a total of $158,700 in new construction.

The number of permits issued is on par with recent years, according to previous reporting in The Ellsworth American, but is down from August last year, when 18 permits were issued.

The number of permits issued this August was half the number issued the month prior, a drop that is not uncommon as summer winds down.

Residential projects ruled last month, with citizens engaged in adding bedrooms, garages and decks to their properties.

The priciest project was slated to be a $75,000 bedroom addition to a home owned by Virginia Davis on Ginnie May Way. Over on Hagans Elbow, Roger E. Sprague is set to build a new, 1,624-square-foot garage for an estimated cost of $52,000.

Despite the largely favorable weather, August has been by far the slowest month for building so far this year, at least measured by value. February was the busiest in terms of value, when nine permits were issued for $2.76 million worth of construction.

But February’s numbers got a bump in part due to permits issued for The Jackson Laboratory’s Phase II remodel, at an estimated cost of $1.25 million.

So far this year, city officials have issued permits for an estimated $10.6 million worth of construction, spread over 118 separate projects, according to city records compiled by The American.

With the exception of January and August, each month has seen more than $1 million in estimated development citywide.

Building has slowed since last year’s boom year for construction, when officials permitted more than $30.5 million in new construction between January and late November.

The two estimates, however, were arrived at using different methods, so the comparison is not necessarily apples to apples.

Staff in the planning and code enforcement offices arrived at the $30 million figure for a report distributed last year by taking the total square footage permitted and multiplying that number by an average building cost of $85 per square foot.

The $10.6 million figure was arrived at by The American using city data listing the overall estimated cost of each project (a number that a resident or developer reports to the city), rather than square footage and construction costs, as the square footage was not available for every project.

Last year was a particularly busy year for construction in the city, with six large projects — the construction of Oriole Way workforce housing, renovations at Walmart and Hannaford, a new branch of First National Bank, Washington LUXE apartments and a new retail complex on the site of the former Town Auto — accounting for over half of the $30,520,525 figure.

And many of the projects will take months or years, so the figure is “not necessarily the amount of construction that actually occurred in that time period,” according to the report.

Kate Cough

Kate Cough

Kate covers the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. She lives in Southwest Harbor and welcomes story tips and ideas. She can be reached at [email protected]
Kate Cough

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