The number of new homes built in St. Charles County remained steady in 2016, with the number of permits for single-family homes close to annual totals for the previous three years.
In 2016, 1,799 housing permits for 2,364 residential units were issued in the county. That compares to 1,761 permits for 2,175 units issued in 2015, 1,832 permits for 2,587 units in 2014 and 1,816 permits for 2,075 units in 2013.
The statistics are compiled by the St. Charles County Community Development Department and not only include countywide totals but permits issued in county municipalities and in unincorporated areas.
As usual, the highest number of permits were for single-family homes. Last year, 1,718 single family permits were issued, up from 1,693 issued in 2015 and 1,704 issued in 2014 and down from 1,742 in 2013.
Multi-family permits for apartments and condominiums were up from a year ago but the annual totals have fluctuated wildly in four years.
Last year, permits for 646 multi-family units on 81 lots were issued for the entire county, compared to 482 multi-family units on 68 lots in 2015, 883 multi-family units on 128 lots in 2014 and 333 units on 74 lots in 2013.
Single-family housing construction is considered a barometer of the overall economic health of the county and St. Louis region as a whole.
Through November, single-family housing permits were up in 2016, compared to 2014 and 2015 in the city of St. Louis and five adjacent Missouri counties, according to the Home Builders Association of St. Louis and Eastern Missouri.
St. Charles County continues to lead the St. Louis region in single-family home construction as it has for a number of years, even during down times. About half of all single-family housing construction in eastern Missouri happens in St. Charles County.
The continued steady pace of residential development suggests how far the county has some from the dark days of the recession only few years ago.
“We see 1,700 permits as something of a new normal for the time being in our community but we still believe the area can return to the 2,000 annual range in the future,” said County Executive Steve Ehlmann in a news release last January.
Those totals are in contrast to the high of 2,124 permits issued in 2007 before the housing bubble burst during the recession. Four years later, the number of single-family permits fell to 939.
The epicenter of the county’s housing market for new homes remains in Wentzville. Residential development in St. Charles County has generally moved west as areas in the eastern part of the county filled up first. The center of development in the 1980s was the so-called “Golden Triangle,” bounded by Interstate 70 on the north, the Missouri River and Hwy. 40-61 on the southwest and Hwy. 94 to the southeast.
In 2005, there were 1,165 single and multi-family housing permits issued in Wentzville alone according to city officials — a number that has not been matched since.
But the number of Wentzville housing permits has been on the rise, particularly over the last few years. In 2016, 676 permits were issued for 663 single-family and 116 multi-family permits according to the county, by far the most permits issued in any municipality in the county.
In 2015, 605 permits were issued in Wentzville, according to county statistics. Of that total, 596 were single-family housing permits. In 2014, 626 single- and multi-family housing permits were issued and 538 were issued in 2013. While the total this year may not be close to pre-recession totals, it is an improvement from the low of 218 permits issued in 2011 in the city.
Next in line for 2016 was O’Fallon, where 420 permits were issued for 381 single-family homes and 204 multi-family units. In St. Charles, 282 permits were issued for 263 single-family and 282 multi-family units.
Last year in Cottleville, permits for 52 single-family homes and zero multi-family buildings were issued. Twenty-two single-family permits and no multi-family permits were issued in Dardenne Prairie. In all, 85 permits were issued for 83 single-family homes and for 28 multi-family units in Lake Saint Louis. Eighty-one single-family permits and no multi-family permits were issued in 2016 in St. Peters.
In the unincorporated area, permits for 128 single-family units and 16 multi-family units were issued last year. This area includes Augusta, Weldon Spring and West Alton. Forty-five single-family permits were issued in an area that includes Flint Hill, Foristell, Josephville, New Melle, Portage des Sioux, St. Paul and Weldon Spring Heights.
Meanwhile, another barometer of economic activity – the cost of construction for new homes in the county – continued to rise in the last four years. County statistics suggest that housing construction costs, including labor, have gone from $407.21 million in 2013 to $536.54 million in 2016.