Residential and commercial remodeling are driving construction activity in Redding in 2011.
And September was no different.
Propelled by the Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic, which will reside in Civic Plaza across from City Hall, nine of every 10 projects permitted last month were remodels.
The city issued 122 permits worth $2.7 million in September. More than half of last month’s valuation, or $1.5 million, went toward bathroom updates, room additions, new roofs, patio covers, decks, garage conversions and commercial remodels.
Residential and commercial remodel permits are up 14 percent from a year ago, according to Redding’s building division.
But with new construction at a virtual standstill, permit valuation in 2011 is off more than 50 percent over a year ago.
Work started about three weeks ago in turning the first floor of Civic Plaza into a 10,000-square-foot satellite for the VA outpatient clinic.
Civic Plaza owners pulled roughly $670,000 in permits in September to make room for the VA.
“They need to be in by the first of May,” said Redding architect Les Melburg, an ownership partner in Civic Plaza. “We don’t anticipate any problems meeting that deadline because all the work is interior, so weather is not going to be an issue.”
Shufelberger Construction is doing the work for Civic Plaza. Owner Mike Shufelberger also has an ownership stake in the building.
In August, Shufelberger complained that sewer hookup fees for the clinic were going to be about $55,000. Shufelberger and his partners had expected to pay up to $10,000 in building and developer fees.
But Civic Plaza owners worked with the city to negotiate a fee bill that Melburg said was fair.
“We are happy with the way the city was willing to resolve it,” Melburg said, adding his group ended up paying about $20,000 in sewer fees.
“The reason is that a study was conducted of the water use rates of similar uses throughout the city, which resulted in a lower water-usage rate than those shown in the standardized tables,” said Bill Nagel, Redding’s interim development services director. “Lower water usage then translates to a lower impact on the sewer system, hence the lower sewer impact fee amount.”
Meanwhile, another dispute involving another high-profile project in Redding remains unresolved — despite the fact permits have been issued.
Turtle Bay Exploration Park plans to build a 130-room Sheraton hotel in the parking lot just west of Paul Bunyan Forest Camp and extending south from the current Visitor Center.
But three unions say the hotel is a public works project subject to prevailing wage.
The city of Redding, Turtle Bay’s landlord, argued the building is privately financed and does not trigger prevailing wage requirements, which drives up costs.
The dispute is holding up construction of the hotel.
But Turtle Bay in September was issued a $91,000 permit for the hotel’s swimming pool.
Barry DeWalt, the assistant city attorney handling the issue, said the city is still waiting to hear from the state Department of Industrial Relations to issue an opinion settling the dispute.
“They (DIR.) haven’t been calling asking questions and they have not been asking for documents, so that usually means they have everything they need to give an opinion,” DeWalt said, “but I haven’t heard anything.”
Turtle Bay hopes the prevailing wage dispute doesn’t labor on for months.
“Thus we are working with the city on permits and approvals so that when these remaining uncertainties are clarified, we can begin,” museum spokesman Toby Osborn said.
Osborn explained a pool permit is a two-step process.
“You must first have a permit from the (Shasta) County Health Department, and then you can apply for your city building permit,” Osborn said. “Since we already had the health permit, we submitted the pool permit with the hotel ground permit. … It just so happened that we received the pool permit first.”