Norman, Stillwater See Apartment Boom, But Construction Stagnant Statewide

Aug 8, 2016

Permits to build apartments in Oklahoma are up 150 percent over last year.

That’s a stark contrast to national construction numbers, which Federal Reserve economist and Oklahoma City branch executive Chad Wilkerson says fell by almost 10 percent.

Builders are responding to demands in Cleveland and Payne counties, home to the state’s two largest universities. In those two counties alone, apartment permits shot up nearly 500 percent and account for the state’s entire increase in multifamily permits, The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports:

“If you take out Cleveland and Payne counties, multifamily permits in Oklahoma year-to-date are down 7 percent from 2015, not much different from the nation,” Wilkerson said.

In those two counties alone, apartment permits shot up 484 percent compared to last year, he said.

“If it was in places other than Cleveland and Payne counties, it would be a little bit concerning considering the overall slowdown of the state economy,” Wilkerson said.

Oklahoma City’s multifamily market peaked in 2015, with brokers expecting 2016 could see a slowdown. Compared to this time last year, Oklahoma County permits are at about the same level.

Apartment construction is cyclical, but developers in Stillwater are still thinking about breaking ground to meet demand from students, young professionals, and senior citizens.

Wayne Stenis, a Norman city planner, said the new apartments there are connected with the university or commercial developments. The 303-unit Terra complex will sit alongside a planned unit development with retail frontage, hotels and a conference center. Across the interstate will be Legacy Trail Apartments, and another development along Brooks Street near campus is replacing an older apartment complex.

“A lot of times, what I’ve found looking at the data over the last several decades is it cycles,” said Stenis. “We’ll have a large number of multifamily units for a while and then none.”

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