Shelby sees dramatic increase in new houses

New homes are going up around Shelby on previously long vacant lots. A handful of new homes have been built on South Lafayette Street.
New homes are going up around Shelby on previously long vacant lots. A handful of new homes have been built on South Lafayette Street.

All across Shelby, vacant lots that have been empty for decades are suddenly sprouting new houses seemingly overnight.

In the midst of a housing shortage as people scramble to find rentals or homes to buy, some are choosing to build.

Walt Scharer, Shelby planning and development services director, said the city has seen a 200% increase in building permits for houses this year already and a 100% increase in 2021 over 2020.

“We did 30 in 2020 and 64 in 2021 and we’re already at 75 in 2022,” Scharer said. “Those are just individual lots around town. You may have seen them. They look strange, some don't look like where a house would be.”

And not everyone is happy with the new growth.

“It’s got a lot of people upset,” Scharer said. ”People are very upset about it.”

Mayor Stan Anthony said he has had calls from people complaining because they have lived beside a lot that was empty for 50 years and is now the site of a new house.

“To me it's great. It’s growth,” Anthony said.

Recently, several homes were constructed on small lots lining South Lafayette Street that have been unused for decades.

Scharer said those are called “infill houses.”

Infill housing is a community development term used for new houses constructed on vacant, underused lots among older, existing properties in established urban neighborhoods.

“We have a demand, and this is super helpful,” said Violet Arth, Shelby City Council member.

In addition to single family homes, there are several apartment, subdivision and townhome projects in the works around Shelby.

On Dekalb Street, between Shelby High and Shelby Middle schools, grading and site preparation is underway for a gated apartment complex.

Scharer said construction plans have not yet been submitted but grading and other preparations are being done.

A townhome development was approved on South Post Road and site plans were approved for an apartment at the corner of Hamrick Street and West Dixon Boulevard.

On Eaves Road, the city is waiting on construction plans for a subdivision, and preliminary site plans have been submitted to the city for property around Magnolia Plantation.

Preliminary site plans have also been submitted for townhomes on South Lafayette Street near Food Lion.

If all of the plans come to fruition, it would mean 2,100 new units.

“It will not all happen at one time, that will be something that happens over several years,” Scharer said. “This is extremely unusual for Shelby. It’s been crazy trying to keep up with them all.”

He said the growth is good news for the city.

“We’re still willing to accept other plans and take a look at them,” he said.

Scharer recently discussed the building projects and permits at a City Council meeting and said the city has to consider preliminary site plans before approving.

“They have submitted preliminary site plans, and we have to consider those very seriously,” he said. “Because of supply chain issues we can't necessarily supply all the materials for those projects if they actually come to fruition right away, so we take them very seriously up front even though they are just preliminary.

“We have to be ready for them as the city of Shelby,” Scharer said.

Rick Howell, city manager, said the city has to be cautious when approving plans since there are upfront costs associated with development.

“Transformers, conduits, pipes, we have to be really, really careful about what we take serious in terms of development,” Howell said.

He said unless developers have spent money and invested in their plans, the city can’t always take them seriously.

“We can’t afford to buy electric transformers if we don't see that happening,” Howell said.

He said the city has to look at whether the developer has purchased and closed on the land and spent money on engineering and design.

“We’re having to prioritize based on developers' progress,” he said.

He said they have to consider market saturation, how many units will be available and cash flow among other things when making decisions.

“It's a good problem to have because we are having growth,” Howell said. “We just have to make sure we are not holding the bag if the bottom drops out of the housing market. It is a balancing act. It is a challenge.”

Andrew Hopper, City Council member said in Kings Mountain they’re putting up a lot of units as well.

“Even Charlotte is busting at the seams, and there's still a demand,” he said. “People are migrating at an alarming rate and coming to North Carolina.”

He said North Carolina used to be the place people passed through to get somewhere else, but not anymore.

“A lot of people are locating here from all around the world,” Hopper said. “We're really making a name for ourselves on the map.”

This article originally appeared on The Shelby Star: Building boom hitting Shelby