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The ever-evolving landscape

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Could new housing sales be on the rebound? Several sources think so.

An article published Tuesday shows that new home sales and consumer confidence have returned to 2008 levels. You can read it here:

http://www.bizjournals.com/philadelphia/news/news-wire/2014/06/24/consumer-confidence-new-home-sales-return-to-2008.html?ana=e_du_pub&s=article_du&ed=2014-06-24&u=q75ER5Fs3O/KwkR8Ot3oXQ02d36469&t=1403637911

This falls in line with some of the stories we’ve been writing about, including one on a new suburban housing project, a sector that shows surprising growth in the Lehigh Valley.

Cities are growing with more people flocking to urban areas, but the suburbs do not appear to be lacking in growth, either. One local builder, Tuskes Homes in Bethlehem, is getting ready to start construction on 55 single-family houses in Lower Nazareth Township, a little more than a year after breaking ground on another project in nearby Bethlehem and Palmer Townships that includes about 80 new homes.

Also, construction finally has begun on the ShopRite portion of the massive Madison Farms projects, which includes more than 800 housing units in Bethlehem Township off Freemansburg Avenue. Let’s not forget the big Jaindl project planned for Upper Macungie Township which includes more than 400 residential units. These are just a few of the recent residential construction projects we’ve been writing about, many of which have a mixed-use component that links nearby amenities including supermarkets, trails, banks, medical facilities and other retail outlets – plus parcels of open space in an attempt to create a “walkable” community.

Naturally, this means more growth in other areas, and not just traffic.

The population is growing in Lehigh and Northampton counties about 10 percent per decade, according to the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission. The newbies have to live somewhere.

Berks County is showing housing growth too, though not as fast as commercial construction.

In March, I wrote about how one company, Forino Co., a homebuilder in Sinking Spring, is building The Reserve at Spring Pointe in Muhlenberg Township off Route 12. The project includes 180 units of multifamily housing. At the time, 100 units were under roof.

For that article, John G. Smith, vice president of Forino, told me that people in Berks are more interested in buying new homes, including a mixture of types, and they are back to buying 2,000-square-foot homes.

With more and more people moving into the region – many to accept jobs – it will drive the need for new housing in Berks and throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley.

What’s interesting is that I thought construction for new housing was slowing and heading to a halt. But it appears we are turning a corner. We may not ever be back to the McMansions movement, but upscale residential growth is happening – and faster than one thinks.

As residential development continues to grow in both cities and suburbs, it will be interesting to see how the landscape of the Greater Lehigh Valley continues to evolve.

 

 

 

Brian Pedersen

Brian Pedersen

Reporter Brian Pedersen covers construction, development, warehousing and real estate and keeps you up to date on the changing landscape of our community. He can be reached at brianp@lvb.com or 610-807-9619, ext. 108. Follow him on Twitter @BrianLehigh.

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