Anyone with a working pair of eyes knows implicitly that the building trades have been going gangbusters on Nantucket over the past 10 months. Since the initial pandemic lockdown in March and April of 2020 that paused most projects and new construction starts, building activity around the island has skyrocketed, fueled by a record $2 billion in real estate transactions last year.
Data from the Nantucket Planning & Land Use Services Department, which tracks building permits by fiscal year (July 1 to June 30), shows the island building boom that is underway. Through just two-thirds of the 2021 fiscal year, the estimated dollar value of new permitted building projects is $242.1 million, already matching the previous fiscal year, and on pace to be the biggest year for island construction in at least five years. In fact, since 2017, two out of the four biggest months for the estimated dollar value of new permitted projects happened in the current fiscal year – February 2021 ($53.6 million) and December of 2020 ($47.4 million). Compare that to the low in April 2020 of just $1.4 million.
“There are many variables at play, in my opinion, including pandemic related delays in design and permitting, increased (and rising) construction costs, increased use of seasonal properties leading to changes being made by the owner, low mortgage rates, soaring property values (providing equity to current owners for property improvements, incentive to sell, panic to buy, etc), and changes in ownership leading to new construction and/or renovation,” said Leslie Woodson Snell, Nantucket Deputy Director of Planning, in an e-mail to the Current.