TEMPLE — After two record-breaking years, Temple continues to grow — with more than 600 homes built for the third year in a row.
While housing starts were slightly down compared to previous years, the city of Temple set a third consecutive record on the number of housing permits issued. In 2019 the city issued 1,016 single-family housing permits, eclipsing the 820 single-family housing permits issued in 2018.
Home starts in Temple fell slightly, from 688 in 2018 to 644 in 2019. However, the lower number of new homes under construction does not mean growth has slowed. New subdivisions are being planned and those tracts have been annexed into the city.
Much of growth generally has been focused in new subdivisions on the western and southern areas of the city, officials said. Temple’s anticipated population by 2030 is more than 100,000 residents.
Place to call home
“Our city’s vision is to make Temple a place people love to call home, so it’s very exciting to see the level of investment continue to increase from developers and homeowners year after year,” Assistant City Manager Erin Smith said. “Because we want this robust level of growth to continue, our organization will remain focused on creating a quality of life where people want to choose Temple, while also ensuring we manage development and infrastructure improvements in a smart and strategic way.”
“We increased our new home starts 20 percent from (2018), and look to build more homes this year than in 2019 to meet the market demands in our neighborhoods,” Megan Kiella, vice president of Kiella Homebuilders, said. “Our industry as a whole is experiencing a severe labor shortage, which, in addition to an increase in various material costs, has led to an increase in sales prices. Thankfully, housing in our area remains affordable in comparison to surrounding markets.”
In addition to new homes, housing sales in the local area have increased over the past few years, with properties being quickly bought when placed on the market.
“New home construction is back at about where it was before 2008, and resales are doing very good,” Garrett Ashby, Temple-Belton Board of Realtors president, said. “We just have an inventory problem of affordable homes. If a house is priced accordingly, and is in good shape, it sells quickly with usually multiple offers.
Temple City Manager Brynn Myers has worked to prepare the city for an increase in population by commissioning a five-year long-term plan. Projects undertaken by the city, such as the West Outer Loop Project and wastewater improvements, show the city’s move towards getting prepared for the future by strengthening roads and infrastructure.
Temple spokeswoman Laurie Simmons said the city has invested more than $315 million in capital infrastructure projects around the city.
Simmons said the investments include $141 million in funding for water and sewer projects aimed at improving the aging infrastructure and increasing the size of water lines in preparation for future growth. About $81 million was also spent on transportation projects.
In addition to investment in infrastructure, Simmons said, the city works with developers by providing funding for road and infrastructure in these developments.
Under its strategic plan, Temple plans on investing an additional $303 million throughout the city over the next six years for mobility, drainage and other capital improvements. This money, combined with $139 million from the city’s Reinvestment Zone No. 1, will bring the total investment to $442 million between fiscal years 2020 and 2025.
“Over the next six years, the city of Temple will invest more money into capital infrastructure than we have over the past decade,” Simmons said. “(This) shows a strong commitment from the City Council and city leadership to stay ahead of the growth curve and make sure we are ready for whatever the future brings.”
City officials attribute Temple’s growth to its proximity to both Austin and Waco, being connected by Interstate 35.
“We are just in the middle of everything here,” Ashby said. “We are getting people here (from Austin) because it is not that far of a commute, and you can buy a lot more house in this area than you can further south.”
Belton saw a total of 111 single-family housing starts and 100 housing permits within the city limits. These numbers did not include the nearby development of Three Creeks, which lies outside the city.
This was the first time in two years that the number of single-family permits dropped in Belton, with 127 permits in 2017 and 147 in 2018.
The cities of Troy, Jarrell and Salado, which are located along Interstate 35, saw new single-family housing starts of 49 homes, 71 homes and zero homes respectively.
For Troy, the number of housing starts for the past year is the city’s highest number since 2014 when it saw 50 new single-family homes. The number of new homes in Jarrell also spiked this past year compared to previous years, with housing starts in the city ranging from 34 to 53 since 2014.
Contrary to the other Interstate 35 cities, Salado’s growth has remained almost stagnant since 2014, with only two housing starts being made in the city in 2016.