NORRISTOWN PA – Non-residential construction in Montgomery County PA fell during 2011 to its lowest point since statistics on building anything but homes began being assembled nine years ago, the county Planning Commission said Friday (Aug. 10, 2012). Even a disappointing year has its leaders, however, and in the office space category that turns out to be – surprise! – Lower Pottsgrove Township.
Also last year Limerick Township topped the county’s list as the site of its largest non-residential project, with construction of the Costco Wholesale Club store on Evergreen Road. West Pottsgrove Township ranked sixth on the same list, as the Carmike Cinemas 12 movie theater complex opened on Upland Square Drive there.
For those and all other projects combined, contractors during 2011 put up only 832,441 square feet of non-residential space. The total covers all commercial, industrial, institutional elderly, institutional, municipal, office, recreation, transportation and utilities construction. Compare it to the county’s highest year, 2003, when more than 5 million non-residential square feet were built.
The culprit in such a precipitous fall: the state of local and regional economies, planners noted. “Obviously, there was a real lack of private building activity as the economy continues to struggle in the aftermath of the Great Recession,” their report said.
Only 34,959 square feet of office space was erected in the county during 2011, and of that 64 percent – 22,698 square feet, the floor-space equivalent of about 15 modest-sized homes – found its way into Lower Pottsgrove.
New Sanatoga offices of Pottstown Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, 500 Heritage Dr., accounted for 12,344 square feet of the office space total, the county said in a report released from its Facebook page. Offices on Medical Drive for the new Women’s Healthcare Center accounted for another 10,354 square feet. Only three other municipalities – Limerick, Skippack, and Upper Dublin – benefited from office construction in 2011, the county added.
Commercial construction was last year’s non-residential king, according to the county, with 430,556 square feet built. Costco’s long-awaited store in the Gateway at Sanatoga complex represented 34 percent of the total, and helped Limerick lead both the report’s commercial category and non-residential building overall. West Pottsgrove’s ranking as fourth in commercial, and sixth among top 10 projects, was due solely to Carmike.
Other non-residential category leaders in the county report:
- Institutional, Lower Gwynedd, where the Ambler Area YMCA built a 78,145 square-foot facility;
- Industrial, Skippack, where Palmer International opened a laboratory and warehouse of 22,698 square feet;
- Municipal, Lower Providence, where the county itself raised 61,904 square feet for its correctional facility expansion;
- Recreation, Upper Providence, 3,816 square feet; and
- Utility, Franconia, 6,877 square feet.
There was no construction last year in the institutional elderly or transportation categories, the county said.
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