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SUNDAY, JULY 1, 2007
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Chris McKelvy and Dave Gillespie finish concrete for a new home being built on Avalon Drive in Hartselle.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Chris McKelvy and Dave Gillespie finish concrete for a new home being built on Avalon Drive in Hartselle.

Hartselle
building boom

City sets record with June construction permits

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com · 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Even as temperatures hovered near 100 degrees, Rickey Coffey and his workers kept sawing and nailing.

Based on building permits the city issued in June, they will be doing this for sometime.

At mid-week last week, builders had requested permits for home and commercial construction in excess of $5 million.

“This has been a record June and there appears to be no end in sight,” said Jeff Johnson of the Department of Development.

“It seems like every day we’re issuing a permit for a new home somewhere in Hartselle,” he added.

Including town homes, city leaders have approved plans for 1,435 new residences since the late 1990s.

The majority of the developments are at least at 80 percent occupancy and Hartselle is holding plans for another 433 single-family homes.

Developers are not required to give reasons for purchasing permits, but Johnson said they attribute the growth to schools, low taxes, cost of living and the hometown atmosphere in Hartselle.

The 5-mill property tax homeowners pay to the city is the lowest in the state, and although there is no ranking system, Hartselle schools are called some of the best in the state.

Coffey, who constructed his first home in Hartselle in 1991, said he has no doubt that most families purchase homes here because they want to put their children in the school system.

“I get more young people to tell me they are building here because of the schools,” he said. “This is especially true today.”

Growth surge

In the 1990s, there was a surge in growth in West Hartselle because homeowners were using Interstate 65 to commute to work in Huntsville and Birmingham, Coffey said.

Almost all the permits in June, however, were in the eastern part of the city where students will attend classes at one of the two elementary schools.

“It’s the school system,” Coffey said, emphatically about the growth.

Although the cost of constructing a house in Hartselle has increased in the past 10 years from about $80 per square foot to between $100 and $110 per square foot, there’s no shortage of work for carpenters.

“As soon as a development is ready, people are building, no matter where it’s at in Hartselle,” Johnson said.

Puckett Road Heights is a good example, he said.

Almost a year ago, Steve Woodard Sr., and long-time Hartselle developer Kevin Corum opened the subdivision.

As the one-year anniversary approaches, the developers have sold 36 of the 44 lots.

“We’ve been fortunate,” Corum said. “We know that the school system is Hartselle’s No. 1 asset and that’s why people are moving here. But, some people are investing in homes so they can re-sell them.”

June was also a good month on the commercial side. Gateway Commercial purchased a permit for a $830,000 fitness center and plaza on U.S. 31. PROFAB Machine is constructing another $385,000 building on U.S. 31.

While the permit was not purchased in June, Copeland Properties of Knoxville is starting construction of a Walgreens in the northwest corner of Alabama 36 and U.S. 31.

The project totals nearly $2 million and will add 14,820 square feet of shopping space in Hartselle.

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