When nearby Fort Carson announced that several thousand new soldiers and their families would be stationed there‚ Pueblo officials knew their housing market would prosper. But when the area began to draw increasing numbers of retirees‚ and more high-end businesses opened in or relocated to the area‚ a boom was born.
“It looks like we’re going to have the best year ever in Pueblo‚” says Nick Pannunzio‚ president of Premier Homes. “A lot of people from Colorado Springs are looking to buy here because they can spend $50‚000 less for the same house and only have a 30-minute drive to work.”
Premier‚ which began building homes in 1992‚ focuses on the $130‚000 to $200‚000 home‚ which is a good fit for the Fort Carson population‚ most of whom are looking to buy in that range‚ Pannunzio says. But with 20 percent more building permits in 2006 than the previous year in Pueblo‚ for a total of about 1‚400 permits‚ Pannunzio says it’s more than just the military driving the market.
“There’s a lot of job growth helping us‚” he says. “We’re seeing new permit numbers that we haven’t seen since the mid-1970s. And we’re poised to take advantage of that.”
That’s the feeling at the Pueblo Economic Development Corp.‚ or PEDCO‚ as well. PEDCO works to promote the area to businesses and industries looking to relocate or expand. It has posted some major successes‚ including a training facility for the U.S. Air Force and the 44‚000-square-foot facility for the Professional Bull Riders Association.
“These people are hiring‚ and those hirees are going to be looking for housing‚” says Jim Spaccamonti‚ PEDCO’s president. “Fort Carson is going to keep our numbers up‚ and the projects and jobs we’ve announced in the last year are driving the economy‚ and the housing increase‚ substantially.”
The hope‚ Spaccamonti says‚ is that the new industries will bring in feeder companies that provide goods and services to them‚ which‚ in turn‚ will bring in more people who will need housing. But new business aside‚ housing in Pueblo likely will continue to grow from other factors.
“We’re seeing a lot of senior citizens coming here‚ as well as consultants – people who are self-employed and work from home‚” he says. “They can be anywhere‚ and they want to be here. And the retirees and their families like the amenities we have‚ things like Lake Pueblo‚ which drew almost 1.5 million visitors last year.”
Pueblo also benefits from existing infrastructure‚ so homebuilders don’t have to jump through hoops to get water‚ sewer and other utilities in place before they can start pouring slabs.
“We’ve got it already in the ground‚ and so while many cities around us are charging major impact fees to handle growth‚ we have not‚” Spaccamonti says. “This makes our cost of housing very reasonable compared to other Colorado cities‚ and even nationwide.”
“It’s really a great time here‚” adds Pannunzio. “I think our market is going to stay fueled at least through 2010 and that we could eventually be a 1‚500-permit [per year] market.”
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