‘Rooftops’ are key to commercial growth
By Jeanne E. Fredriksen
It bears repeating: Rolesville currently is the fastest-growing town in the state – percentage-wise rather than actual number-wise, that is. This community, having remained a small town while others around Raleigh became much larger and more populous, now has a reason to be noticed.
An updated U.S. Census report released mid-May indicates that the town’s population has grown by slightly more half since 2010. The 2010 census report estimated the town’s population to be 3,817, and it has steadily climbed in the years since – to 4,039 in 2011; 4,253 in 2012; 4,649 in 2013. The latest report estimates Rolesville’s population as of July 1, 2014, to be 5,785.
Certainly that data plus the opening of the U.S. 401 / Rolesville Bypass indicates that commercial and retail entities should be scrambling to build here.
However, when asked about permits for new construction of commercial and retail buildings, Rolesville Planning Director Thomas Lloyd said, “We haven’t issued any new commercial building permits for a while. Residential really is our bread and butter.”
According to Lloyd, when big retailers, who of course desire traffic passing by their location, send out their marking teams to figure out the best place locate a new store, they look at demographic information. The population of Rolesville alone doesn’t necessarily matter to them. What they care about is the number of people within a certain radius who would be drawn to a specific possible location.
“The more ‘rooftops’ you have,” Lloyd explained, using industry language for homes, “the more people you have falling into those areas. Then the commercial (growth) starts to follow.”
Lloyd suggested that Rolesville is most likely getting to the point now where there is a sufficient enough population within a certain radius for commercial builders to start looking at this area. By combining Rolesville and perhaps a portion of nearby Raleigh, commercial interests might decide there’s a large enough population to capture business here without losing customers to Wake Forest or other nearby towns.
“With the bypass, the traffic that’s going to be going by it, and the built-in population, I think you’ll start seeing some commercial interest here,” Lloyd said. “Probably sooner rather than later.”
In the meantime, new home construction permits continue to be issued at a respectable rate. Between January 1 and June 30, a total of 88 permits were issued. Heritage East was issued 21 permits, while Carlton Pointe had 22. Fifteen permits were issued for Cedar Lakes, Drayton Reserve had 8 permits for new home construction, a handful each were issued for Hampton Pointe and Granite Crest, and a smattering of permits went to various other residential developments.
“A total of 88 new homes is very good for the first half of the year,” Lloyd said. “We’re booming!”
The first half of last year also saw 88 permits issued for new home construction, with almost as many for the second half of the year. As consistent as that may seem, a ten-year look at new housing construction permits indicates the lowest year was 2009, just after the start of the recession, with a mere 25 permits issued. The best year, 2013, skyrocketed with 321 permits. In the first half of that year, 159 residential building permits were issued, and over the course of the year, 44% of the permits were tagged for Heritage East alone.
When asked if permits dipped in number during 2014 and 2015 because of the many delays to the opening of the bypass, Lloyd said he didn’t think there was a correlation.
“I don’t think it’s a downward trend…I think it’s just normalization,” he explained. “2013 was off the charts because I think there was a lot of pent-up demand coming out of the recession. I don’t think the completion (or lack thereof) of the bypass has much of an impact on residential development. I do, however, expect a surge in nonresidential development when it is open.”
In the meantime, while new construction permits have seen two consistent years of new home construction, home improvement permits not including those for adding bedrooms, came in at 32, including 12 at Heritage East.
The total improvement value in Rolesville projected by all combined permits is approximately $22.7 million.