Marion reaches new home goal

41 new housing starts in city in 2015

By Mark Randall news@theeveningtimes.com

Marion met its new housing goal for 2015 and all signs are pointing to a healthy 2016 as well. Marion finished 2015 with 41 new housing starts. So far in January, there were four new housing permits issued. In the past few years the city has averaged 40 to 50 new homes a year. “Forty is good, positive growth,” said Marion Building Inspector Jerry Kelley. “And I feel like we will hold strong this year.” The city also had eight commercial permits and 172 miscellaneous building permits issued in 2015. Kelly said there are about three or four new houses going up in Bayou Vista and one or two in St. John’s Landing. Councilman Cliff Wood asked whether the city had enough residential building sites left to develop. “Do we have enough lots?” Wood asked. “It’s not critical yet,” Kelley said. Lot sizes of 2,500 to 3,500 square feet, which are the most popular size in Marion, are, however, in short supply. Kelley said Marion is still an attractive place to live. In 2014, Nerdwallet, a personal finance website that offers impartial data and information to help consumers make money decisions on topics ranging from the best credit cards to health care, shopping, and travel, ranked Marion as the 8th best place in Arkansas for home ownership. The study surveyed all 74 cities in Arkansas and found that Marion has a nearly 70 percent home ownership rate with a monthly home ownership cost of $1,296. Marion hit a high of 240 new homes in 2006 before bottoming out to 30 in 2008 when the national recession hit. Marion had 50 new homes in 2012, 54 in 2013, and 42 in 2014. “People just want to live in Marion,” Kelley said. “I think we will get the same kind of year that we had last year. I think we will have a pretty decent year.”

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