Spotlight on: St. Louis
Home Builders Association of Greater St. Louis
Jim Kuhn, CEO of Consolidated Construction Group
Executive Vice President:
Patrick S. Sullivan
By Patrick Sullivan, EVP Of HBA Of Greater St. Louis
- Metro population: 2.6 million
- Price range for starter homes: $100,000-$180,000
- Price range for trade-up homes: $180,000-$250,000
- 2002 housing permits:
- 7,800 single-family units
- 2,500 multifamily units
Outlook for 2003:
Our market is fortunate to be very diverse economically — there are several major industries here. So we feel good about the outlook for home building.
We think there could be a slight contraction from last year’s exceptional activity, but so far, things have been operating at quite a high level. We could wind up with another incredibly healthy year — anywhere in the 9,000-11,000 permits range is not bad for our members. And that’s considering that St. Louis isn’t really a “growth” area. Primarily, that's our residents moving from one part of the city to another.
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Biggest source of concern for St. Louis builders:
Our concerns are typical concerns: Where will we get the land to build on? And how will we get government to approve the starter and move-up homes that need to be built?
Near downtown, getting any land at all to build on is very difficult, and getting approvals for the kind of densities you need is tough. You really have to go out to the hinterlands to find available land because infill lots are scarce and the cost of developing them forces the homes to a very high price point.
We have some of the most aggressive regulatory and political oversight in the country, and our HBA devotes considerable resources to addressing all the issues that confront our members as a result.
What we call “attached villas” — often four-plex or eight-plex homes — are very popular as starter homes. In this kind of development, every unit has street-level entry and two or more living levels. Because it’s attached housing, it helps hold down costs. It’s similar to what you’d call row houses in the East, and is especially good for entry-level buyers.
Single-family detached homes still make up the majority of the market, but to find land for them, you have to go way out on the fringes.
The “New Urbanism,” or neo-traditional style, is also picking up steam. The biggest project underway is a 3,000-unit community that’s being planned by Andres Duany. Several other major developments based on the new urbanism concept are also taking shape. All are in the outer suburbs, since that’s where the land is available.
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