Commercial construction activity more than doubled at Longview in fiscal year 2021-22, largely due to a few major projects.
New construction by Gap Inc. for its e-commerce distribution facility; Aviagen’s new broiler hatchery under construction at Longview Business Park; the ongoing construction of new facilities at Komatsu; and the Christus NorthPark expansion are the biggest chunks of the nearly $678 million in commercial building permits issued by the Town of Longview in 2021-22. City records show 315 commercial building permits of various types were issued in the fiscal year that just ended in September. This represents an increase from 305 permits worth over $236.6 million the previous year and over $229.7 million for 273 permits in 2019-20.
Still, the local commercial construction industry has faced challenges similar to other markets across the country – inflation, supply delays and material shortages, said Casey Beddingfield, president of RLM General Contractors at Longview. .
Beddingfield’s firm was not involved in these larger commercial construction projects, and he said 2022 was a slower year for his business. However, 2023 and 2024 will be “strong” for RLM.
“We already have work booked. These will be very good years,” he said, nothing that is part of the problem of the current year is that several projects have not advanced due to price issues.
He thinks the construction industry has peaked in price increases, and he expects those prices to flatten out and then come down a bit.
“On the other side of that, we’re seeing shortages of materials like concrete” and window glass, Beddingfield said. “It’s prevalent in the market.”
Delays in product availability are also an issue, he said. Electrical components, such as circuit breakers that would be used for electrical distribution in a building, have a delivery time of 12 months, he said.
Steve Pirtle, the District 6 representative on the Longview City Council, is a local custom home builder.
“It’s been very busy, and some of the builders (of other homes) I’ve spoken to say they’ve been overwhelmed as well,” he said.
Residential building activity has also increased in Longview, largely due to the approval of a new apartment complex. The Residences of 144 units in Toler will be at 2006 Toler Road in West Longview. The clearance placed its construction value at nearly $9 million.
Permits for single-family homes have also increased.
Pirtle said the housing market appears to be doing well in Longview, although builders need more contractors and more workers. Although he is a custom builder, he said he sees other builders who build speculative homes easily selling those properties as well.
He said that even though interest rates have gone up, people can still refinance later.
If there’s a downside in the local market, he said, it’s finding a property to build on. As a result, people are building outside of town and in some cases building on vacant lots in older developments.
“I think we have a positive outlook ahead,” he said of residential construction in Longview.