In spite of pandemic, construction booming in Sarasota County, as illustrated by permit figures

Total through July was 34,202; highest mark since 2004 fiscal year was 41,670 in 2018

Image courtesy Sarasota County

Although the novel coronavirus pandemic has had a deleterious effect on numerous local government revenue sources, Sarasota County has continued to rack up high numbers of permits for development, County Administrator Jonathan Lewis reported to the County Commission this week.

In an Aug. 17 email, he wrote, “I thought you would be interested in the development trend report prepared by [the] Planning and Development Services [Department].”

Among information he characterized as “items of note” was the fact that the total number of permits issued for building, zoning and right of way purposes added up to 34,202 through July, since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, 2019. For the same period of the previous fiscal year, he continued, the figure was 33,454.

A graph Lewis sent the commissioners show that the highest total for county permits issued in a fiscal year, going back to FY 2004, was 41,670, in FY 2018.

The 2019 fiscal year was in second place, at 40,135.

July holds the mark thus far this fiscal year for the highest number of permits issued in one month, Lewis pointed out: 4,140. June was in second place, with 3,894.

New permits being issued for single-family home construction, Lewis wrote, “also continue at very high numbers. So far this fiscal year we have 1,607,” he added, posing the potential for the county to pass the 2019 figure of 1,751.

A graph shows that, for the same period of the 2019 fiscal year, the number was 1,438; thus, the total through July of this year is up 12%, compared to that number.

To illustrate historical trends, a graph shows the largest number of permits the county issued for new single-family dwellings in any fiscal year going back to 2004 was 2,152 in FY 2005, before the Great Recession began. The lowest figure since FY 2004 was 273, in FY 2009.

The construction value of single-family home permits issued thus far this fiscal year reached a high mark in July, at $65 million. The May permits were in second place, with a value of $63 million.

This graph shows the number of permits issued per month for single-family home construction and the corresponding value in millions of dollars. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The month with the largest number of single-family permits issued so far this fiscal year was March, with 364. January was in second place, with 332.

Yet another graph shows that, also through July, 1,051 permits for new single-family dwellings were issued for North County developments; for South County projects, 556.

In the 2019 fiscal year, through July, the total for North County was 825; for South County, 613.

Thus far this fiscal year, the highest value of permits related to all types of construction in a single month was marked in October 2019, another graph showed. That figure was $188 million. July was in second place, with permits reflecting $130 million in construction. July narrowly beat out January, which saw the value hit $129 million.

This graph shows the number of county permits issued per month this fiscal year, through July, and the corresponding construction value in millions of dollars. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The low point for the fiscal year through July was a value of $89 million in February.

Yet another graph shows the increase in the number of permits issued online, compared to those issued in person. The lowest percentage of permits issued for one month this fiscal year over the internet was 60% in November 2019. In March, when the first COVID-19 patient in Florida was identified in Sarasota County, the figure rose to 67%. It climbed to 78% in April and then to 82% in May. For both June and July, it was 84%.

The number of permits issued over the internet in July was 3,484, compared to 2,544 in the 2019 fiscal year. That July figure also is the highest so far this fiscal year.

The total number of commercial permits issued through July was 804, compared to 553 from Oct. 1, 2018 through July 2019. Additionally, of all the commercial permits issued just in July this year, 30 were for multi-family housing construction; 12 were for non-residential development.

This graph shows the total number of permits issued by week, from Dec. 1, 2019 through Aug. 9. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The high mark so far this fiscal year for commercial permits issued in one month was set in January, with 60; June was in second place, with 57.

As for building inspections performed by county staff: From Oct. 1, 2019 through July, the figure was 117,790, up 2% from the total of 115,785 for the same period of the past fiscal year.

Finally, the number of new project applications received through July totaled 79; for the same period of 2019, the figure was 65.