Pamplin Media Group – Prineville home building permits

Fueled primarily by two builders, the city planning department anticipates more than 100 applications this year

JASON CHANEY - Home construction is expected to stay busy through the summer months, and potentially beyond.

The Prineville housing market is poised to gain more new inventory than it ever has in a single year.

According to Prineville Planning Director Josh Smith, builders had already applied to construct 70 new single home dwellings by early May, which is on pace to set a new record for the calendar year in the community.

“All of 2021, we did 96 residential approvals,” he said, noting that the city his hitting 70 permit applications nearly two months prior to 2022’s halfway point. “We usually slow down in the middle of summer when people are doing most of their building and we pick up in the fall.”

Smith therefore anticipates eclipsing 100 single family units by the end of the year, “which is the most we have ever done.”

The potential record-setting year follows a string of years in which home building permit applications have steadily increased. Smith said the annual uptick started in 2014 and despite the pandemic and its impact on the economy, home building interest continued to grow in 2020 and 2021. He points out that 96 approvals last year was a good year.

“We are basically doubling what we did in 2014,” he said.

But 2022 is different than the previous years because the 70 permit applications thus far have primarily come from two builders, D.R. Horton and Pahlisch, which has already built a substantial number of homes in Prineville’s northeast area. Smith points out that the high quantity of permits have come in spite of increasing interest rates and shortages in labor and materials that could threaten the buildout of homes in the near future.

“They seem to be moving regardless of what the economy and interest rates are doing,” he said.

The two-builder scenario differs from most years when the applicant pool is comprised of a more diverse group of builders, from smaller companies to larger ones like Pahlisch.

“It’s typically a mix,” Smith said. “This year, so far, it’s not.”

The early rush of applications coincides with the Prineville Planning Commission signing off on an application to develop a massive apartment complex and cottage-style housing complex. The buildout, once completed, would feature 270 new apartments and 58 cottage-style homes. It dramatically eclipses the largest apartment complex built in Prineville, which has 135 units.

Smith said work on the apartment complex won’t likely begin until sometime next calendar year, and its full buildout, which could take as long as three years, will depend on market demand. The single-family dwellings by contrast are expected to break ground this year, leading into next. They may not all get completed in 2023, but he expects work on most or all of them to at least begin by then.

Despite all the new housing expected to come online in the near future, developers still see unmet demand that they hope to fill. Smith is still fielding interest from single-family dwelling builders as well as multi-family units.

“It feels to me like we are working in a very popular region,” he concluded.

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