State of Real Estate showcases upward trends

With home sales at their highest since 2006 and $646 million in capital investments made or announced in 2012—which included more than $140 million in new commercial and multifamily projects and nearly $200 million in new industrial construction—“trending up” proved to be theme at the 19th annual F.C. Tucker/Lafayette State of Real Estate.

Held at the Lafayette Theater, the event that was co-sponsored by Greater Lafayette Commerce drew hundreds to hear real estate and economic development experts summarize 2012 activities and highlight key local projects that bode well for continued good news.

Gerry Dick, founder of Inside Indiana Business, gave an overview of state activities.

Lou Johnson, broker/owner of F.C. Tucker/Lafayette, reported increased residential sales for the area. “In residential real estate, sales of Tippecanoe County homes in local school districts totaled 1,923, for a total sales volume of $283.5 million,” she said “That’s the highest number of units sold since 2006, when sales were a little higher. The total dollar volume in 2006 was actually a bit lower than in 2012.”

Johnson also reported that building permits for new home construction totaled 496 in 2012, the highest since 2007. Lafayette granted 83 permits; West Lafayette, 86; and 327 permits were obtained for areas of Tippecanoe County outside city limits.

Jody Hamilton, director of economic development at Greater Lafayette Commerce, noted that 2013 will see progress on several projects announced in 2012. She gave the keynote address covering local economic trends.

“Three sizable mixed-use projects will be taking shape,” she said. “They include 720 Northwestern, a five-story project; State Street Corner, at State and Northwestern; and Hayes Triangle. And keep your eye on the former Home Hospital site, which is slated to come down and new development to go up.”

Alcoa’s new $93 million plant and Subaru of Indiana Automotive’s $75 million expansion follow on the heels of the $130 million Nanshan plant that is now making its first products and the new $16 million Heartland Automotive plant.

"As we all know, manufacturing is one of the biggest drivers of the economy in Greater Lafayette,” Hamilton said, also citing the new $17 million Automotive Robotics Proving Lab.

“This all illustrates the importance of continually working with existing industries and attracting new,” Hamilton said.

“Smaller industries, too, represent strong economic health,” she said. Two she cited were Blichmann Engineering, which makes home-brewing equipment and is partnering with Steiner Enterprises to invest $1.4 million and rehabilitate the former Sears building on Canal Road, and Copper Moon Coffee, which is investing $1.3 million on a Lafayette facility.

In other economic news, Hamilton noted that about a dozen new high-tech and life science companies opened in 2012. Among them were Medtric, QuantIon Technologies and Agtech Innovations.

“This sector may not see dramatic investments or employment numbers like industry, but each company has the potential for breakthrough and growth,” she said.

“With our community being so diverse when it comes to industries and sectors, it is important we stay on top of what matters to them,” she said. “Those include quality of life, attractions, cultural venues, size and cost of homes and their amenities, and parks and nature.”

Retail and restaurants also saw new openings in 2012. About 30 retailers opened, including locally owned Hot House Market and Main Street Seafood & Spice Co., and national retailers Gander Mountain and Party City.

About 30 new restaurants opened, too. “These expanded our already diverse dining options,” amilton said. Among them were Star City Coffee & Ale and Sylvia’s Brick Oven.

Continuing its role as a growing regional hub, the medical community also welcomed newcomers. About a dozen medical and dental offices opened, and two rehabilitation hospitals came to town. Sycamore Springs opened in 2012; Ernest Health will open this year.

The county’s $646 million in capital investments announced or made are a tally of about 100 projects of at least $100,000, Hamilton said. “That’s $200 million more than 2011, and the highest we’ve seen in five years. I’d call that trending up.”

Hamilton also said Greater Lafayette Commerce’s blueprint for continued growth could be seen in “From Good to Great: Making Greater Lafayette a Community of Choice,” which is now being implemented. It covers living enhancements, green initiatives, increased occupational options and other goals. 

Residential Real Estate Activity Summary – Tippecanoe County

                                    2009                 2010                 2011                 2012

Properties sold               1,774                1,674                1,650                1,923

Dollar volume                $245.5 million    $233.2 million    $230.2 million    $283.5 million

Average sales price       $138,369           $139,306           $139,535           $247,441

Median price                 $121,000           $122,500           $121,000           $127,500

New home permits         405:                  381:                  462:                  496:     

                                      85, Lafayette     65, Lafayette   80, Lafayette      83, Lafayette

                                      72, WL            67, WL             92, WL               86, WL

                                  248, County     249, County      290, County      327, County


                                        2006                 2007                 2008

Properties sold               1,940                1,795                1,789

Dollar volume                $282.9 million    $272 million       $255 million

Average sales price       $145,830           $151,548           $142,316

New home permits         637 total           570 total               448 total          

                                      91, Lafayette     89, Lafayette     85, Lafayette

                                      73, WL              117, WL                96, WL

                                  473, County      364, County      267, County

Note: Residential data covers homes in the Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County school corporations. Information courtesy of Lafayette and West Lafayette city engineers’ offices, Tippecanoe County Building Commission, Tippecanoe County Area Plan Commission and LRAOR (MLS).