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Hamburg reports rise in 2010 housing starts

Housing starts in Hamburg have started to recover, but retail construction still seems to be feeling the effects of the recession.

After hitting a low of 91 building permits for new homes in 2009, last year the town issued 133 permits for new housing, including 109 single-family homes, said Kurt Allen, supervising code enforcement officer.

But the houses are different than those built just a few years ago. "The type of house that is being constructed now is considerably different," Allen said. "The high-end custom houses really took a beating."

Patio homes are becoming much more popular, he said. Housing prices continue to rise, apparently due to increased costs for materials, he said, as smaller homes are being built.

Housing figures include the villages of Blasdell and Hamburg because the town issues permits for them.

Allen said single-family house construction peaked at 231 in 2003, and then tapered to about 200 starts a year. It dipped in 2006, then went up to 179 permits in 2007. There were 155 permits issued in 2008; then in 2009, they dropped to 91.

Hamburg's housing is following national trends, with home building throughout the country the past two years reaching the lowest levels in half a century.

Commercial construction in Hamburg has dropped significantly. In 2008, the town issued permits for two big-box stores, Lowe's and Walmart, and the town set a record that year for revenues from permit fees.

"Retail is really dead currently," Allen said. "There's nothing other than the Tops expansion project."

The work at Tops at Southwestern Boulevard and McKinley Parkway is expected to start soon, after final permits are obtained from the town.

The number of building permits increased townwide to a record 1,950 last year, with revenue from fees reaching $432,307.

Allen said some of the increase can be attributed to an increased focus on electrical inspections last year. And, starting this year, the town is requiring construction permits for reroofing.

e-mail: bobrien@buffnews.com