PHOTO: State and local officials participate in the Dec. 10 groundbreaking on a new manufacturing facility in Bay Minette for Southern Visions, LLP, makers of Sweet Brew tea and lemonade.
The numbers are staggering when it comes to residential growth in Baldwin County, with as many as 6,600 homes, apartment units or vacation rentals underway, in the permitting process or on the drawing board.
Lagniappe closely studied information on the cities of Fairhope, Daphne, Foley, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach and incorporated areas of Baldwin County. All are reporting activity gains for 2018 over 2017 numbers. Most cities and the county use the fiscal year of Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, but Gulf Shores and Orange Beach use the calendar year for financial and budgeting purposes.
Foley Community Development Director Miriam Boutwell said there is a 545 percent increase in the number of residential units added in Foley over the two years — just 285 units added in FY 2017 but 698 units added in 2018.
“Among those are 270 single-family homes and 410 new apartment units in Foley alone,” Boutwell said. Additionally, plans are underway in either preliminary or final plat stages for 1,276 lots in more than 50 subdivisions in Foley.
In Orange Beach, building official Lannie Smith said this is the most single-year development in his city’s history.
“For the number of permits, and especially residential in general, with townhouses and non-condo building, this has definitely been a record year,” Smith said. “We have had more this year than any year since we’ve been incorporated.”
An Orange Beach phenomenon, Smith said, is the use of empty lots or redeveloping lots, mostly along Canal Road east of the Alabama State Route 161 intersection.
“We’ve had tremendous growth, especially in the Bear Point area, on lots that have traditionally been vacant,” Smith said. “Or lots where there may have been an old mobile home on the lot and somebody pulled the mobile home off and built a house there, which is good for that area.”
In Orange Beach, 141 building permits were issued in 2017 compared with 148 issued for single-family residences in 2018 and one for a multifamily building. Additionally, there are 465 single-family units underway or permitted in Orange Beach as well as 632 new vacation rentals, including four Phoenix condominium towers and a 192-room beachfront hotel on the drawing board.
Gulf Shores might be leading the way, with 1,382 lots approved in 17 subdivisions, all in various stages of development. Another 931 units are approved for condos, apartments, vacation cottages or hotel rooms, for a total of 2,574. On Monday the city’s planning commission will hear plans for a 51-unit condominium complex on West Beach Boulevard.
In Fairhope, so far in 2018 plans for 1,200 new residential lots have been presented to the Planning Commission for 17 different subdivisions.
In neighboring Daphne, its commission heard plans for 683 residential lots in 16 subdivisions. But the numbers for actual building permits declined in Daphne to 191 this year from 195 in 2017.
In the unincorporated areas of Baldwin County, building official Mike Howell said 693 single-family building permits were issued along with four permits for multifamily housing in 2018. Those numbers were 509 for single-family and six for multifamily in 2017.