The Forsyth County Planning Commission may see an increase in its workload if trends presented at Tuesday night’s meeting are on point.
The board heard about the state of the local market from Randall Toussaint with the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce.
“Things are beginning to slowly get better,” said Toussaint, vice president of economic development.
Rental prices in the office and retail market have increased and the percentage of vacant properties is decreasing, he said.
Businesses’ recruitment numbers expected for this year so far include eight projects creating 314 new jobs and about $15.7 million in capital investment, Toussaint said.
“Nothing really happens as an island,” he said. “As we’re generating new jobs and capital investment within the community, more people are moving into the community.”
A roundtable of real estate professionals at the chamber has shown two trends taking place in Forsyth.
Rental properties are moving “more quickly,” especially in the $1,200 to $1,500 per month range, he said.
Also, the new homes being built are more modest in size, which Toussaint said will allow the readjustment of the market.
“As we begin to come out of the economic downturn, we begin to see the vacancy rates decrease. When the vacancy rates decrease, that’s also when we begin to see a balancing out of the prices,” he said. “Are we there yet? A lot of people argue no, but I think in Forsyth County we’re closer than many communities are at this time.”
Teressa Cox of the planning department said Toussaint was invited in to make the commission aware that the chamber has been working with developers, including residential ones.
A development industry panel has talked with the chamber on improving the processes to build locally.
In terms of picking up unfinished subdivisions — the planning board’s initial topic of discussion — that trend seems to be already occurring, Cox said.
“We don’t have to go any further than this department to see what’s happening,” she said. “We’ve already done over 3,000 building permits this month. We didn’t do 1,200 in the last two or three years.”
The planning commission opted not to get involved with incentivizing developers to complete abandoned subdivision projects.
Member Jim Kinsey said he believes “the marketplace will absorb those because they’re good deals.”
The board did decide to continue receiving updates from the chamber and request to meet with the roundtables of developers or real estate professionals in continuing its education on the county’s development climate.