Construction heating up in Moscow

Several houses are under construction at the intersection of East Third and East Sixth streets Tuesday in Moscow.

Moscow issued more construction permits for single-family housing units in 2018 than it has in 10 years, while the construction of multi-family units well exceeded the city's average for the second straight year, according to the Moscow Community Development Department.

The city permitted the construction of 38 single-family dwellings - the highest since 52 in 2008 - and 96 multi-family units in 2018. The city averages 40 new single-family units and 71 multi-family units per year.

Overall, the city issued permits for 232 housing units in 2017 for a $34.8 million valuation and 134 units in 2018 for a $21 million valuation. Both years exceeded the 127-unit yearly average.

Community Development Director Bill Belknap said the city's single-family and multi-family housing trends are similar to those occurring across the nation.

After the Great Recession, the number of new single-family housing units dropped to nearly half of historical averages while multi-family units declined for a short period of time before rapidly recovering, Belknap said. Within three or four years after the recession, multi-family housing construction was at or above pre-recession rates, whereas single-family construction hovered around 60 percent of pre-recession activity.

"We're still continuing to see strong construction and strong activity both in multi-family and we're starting to see a stronger recovery in the single-family market," he said.

Moscow averaged 55 single-family homes per year from 2000 to 2008 and only 27 from 2009 to 2018 but the yearly numbers have been ascending toward the 40 units per year average since 2016.

Belknap said multi-family numbers vary year-to-year because one large project, such as the Identity on Main project in 2017 that consisted of 132 units, can dramatically increase the multi-family unit total. In 2017, the total spiked to 201 - the highest since 221 in 2006.

Moscow averaged 116 permitted multi-family units from 2000 to 2008 and 92 from 2009 to 2018.

Belknap said multi-family construction rebounded faster from the recession than single-family home construction because many people could no longer afford to purchase single-family homes.

He said lending requirements became more restrictive once the housing bubble burst, and some people saw home values drop dramatically and determined buying a home may not be a wise investment. Increasing unemployment and home construction costs and stagnant wages did not help matters either, Belknap said.

He said commercial construction has remained fairly steady in Moscow.

The city permitted $5.9 million in commercial construction in 2017 and $13.8 million in 2018, which was well above the average $8.4 million mark. About $10.5 million of the 2018 valuation originated from the Northwest River Supplies expansion project at the former Tidyman's building on South Blaine Street.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to

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