Thursday, December 02, 2004

Will County takes lead in area housing boom




Will County issued more residential housing permits during the first 10 months of this year than any other county in the region, according to a newly released report.

DuPage County, meanwhile, issued the fewest permits of any of the collar counties.

Will signed off on 6,547 buildings through October - close to three times the 2,358 permits issued in DuPage, according to the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission. Both counties held the same positions on the list last year.

The figures are no surprise to officials in either county. DuPage, after all, is coming off a major population boom and Will is squarely in the grips of one.

DuPage County board member Bob Heap said DuPage's slowdown is indicative of an area nearing its housing capacity.

"We've been built out," Heap said. "We're running out of space."

He expects housing construction to taper even more in the near future, though a standstill isn't likely. As space becomes a hotter commodity, builders are pursuing more creative options such as teardowns - an issue Naperville and other DuPage towns are grappling with right now.

"I think you're going to see more and I think a lot of municipalities will be imposing tough sanctions," he said.

In Will County, the issues are volume and quantity, said John Greuling, president and CEO of the Joliet/Will County Center for Economic Development.

He said the growth spurt shows progress. For example, the number of jobs in the county has been increasing faster than the national average.

But growth has its challenges, such as keeping up with infrastructure and making sure the local education system doesn't suffer, Greuling said. Done properly, growth is managed carefully and from all sides.

"It can be both a blessing and a curse," he said.

Two Will County municipalities also ranked high when compared with individual communities in the six-county region, according to commission's list.

Joliet approved 1,358 building permits from January through October and Plainfield approved 1,081. Bolingbrook came in a distant third in the county with 632 permits.

The only city to beat those numbers was Chicago with 1,509 permits, according to the list.

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