According to local experts, the flickering signs of economic recovery here and elsewhere in the country are not enough to convince investors or lenders to move forward with high-cost commercial projects.
"The banks have been burned in the past and are very nervous about loaning money for commercial projects," said real estate developer, Jerome Kittrell. "In fact, some of the banks are actually canceling lines of credit on their good, long-term customers because of their fear of development and commercial activity."
The city of Meridian's community development department says that, while we, like the rest of the country, are seeing a definite decline in commercial development, the city still has some big projects in the works.
"We've got a potential multifamily project on North Hills Street that is being discussed and looked at, but no permits have been issued," said Don Farrar, director of community development. "They're going through the development process now. There's some potential asserted living projects that have been discussed. Handy Hardware is on the top; that's a $12.5 million project site."
The economy has not forced commercial development into a stand still. However, commercial projects are down a significant amount, lower than residential.
"Commercial is slower, nationwide, including Meridian," said Kittrell. "And it may be a little while before we see commercial development. Commercial has lagged; residential has too, but only a little bit and doesn't get talked about very much."
"We've had a reduction from last year, 2008-2009, in residential construction, from thirty-five new homes down to eight this past year," said Farrar.
Farrar says instead of developing new projects, additions to current commercial locations take up most of the current city construction.
He also says that Meridian is holding its own in this economy and new construction continues to be healthy in the city.
The number of people working in construction has dropped significantly in Mississippi over the last 12 months. The Associated General Contractors of America says there has been a 13% drop.
January 2009 52,500
January 2010 45,600
Total loss 6,900