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story.lead_photo.caption Keith Bryant/The Times of Northeast Benton County A home in Maple Glen III, near Slack Street and Ross Salvage Road, is still under construction but already sold.

Homes are going up and getting filled quickly in Pea Ridge.

Data from the city shows that, while there was a large boom in the mid-2000s, the house building dipped around 2007-11, but picked up dramatically in 2016. The city issued 138 building permits in 2016, more than triple what it issued in 2015.

Year^No. of buildings^Avg. cost




















"It's good," Mayor Jackie Crabtree said. "Growth is good for the community and the city."

More people moving in, he said, incentivizes more businesses to move in. Without a population to serve, there's no customer base for those businesses to serve.

But it isn't without its difficulties, he said. In particular, the city is getting ready to build a waste water treatment plant. This would have been essential either way, he said, because the city was on the cusp of keeping it at capacity. The project, he said, is currently in the engineering phase, and expected to cost somewhere in the $6 million range.

But beyond that, he said, the city has been preparing to grow.

"We've been anticipating the growth and getting ready for it," he said.

The city's school system, he said, as well as the high value in housing, is expected to draw new residents.

The water system in Pea Ridge has been improved, he said, in anticipation of an increasing population, for instance.

Crabtree said there's also been an increasing commercial presence in Pea Ridge, and there's been some talk of a medical center coming to Pea Ridge.

Tony Townsend, building official for Pea Ridge, said he believes the sudden increase in homes being built is the result of inexpensive land and low interest rates.

Following the recession of the late 2000s, he said, a lot of subdivisions had been formed and plans were in place, but nothing really got built. Post-recession, he said, one subdivision -- Elkhorn -- has been established.

"Banks ended up with most of the empty subdivisions," he said, "builders smelled a deal."

With cheap land on which to build, he said, developers got to work, trying to get subdivisions built and homes sold before they're finished. It's important, he said, that the sales get made quickly, while interest rates are still low.

Moreover, Townsend said, a boom like this isn't likely to last, though growth could remain high if Arkansas Highway 72 is upgraded to allow greater traffic flow in and out of the city. As more lots get built and prices go up, he said, he expects growth to slow down and likely level out to the city's average of about 50 homes per month.

"Once the cost of borrowing money goes up and the cost of developing goes up, I think we'll go back to normal," Townsend said. "That's what spurred this, the cheaper money."

In the meantime, it's keeping Townsend busy issuing permits and performing inspections.

A member of the local workforce, Carolyn Slaughter, is the manager at the White Oak Station in Pea Ridge.

Slaughter said she's been manager for about a year, and she's seen a significant increase in business in that time, roughly 3 percent overall, and around 20 percent in the deli, which earned over $20,000 by itself -- an all-time high for the store -- in November 2016.

The shop is selling roughly $200 more in breakfast alone each day, she said, compared to when she started.

The business, she said, is fairly constant, and the station sees a little over a thousand customers in a typical day.

"I don't think this town ever sleeps," she said.

She's noticing more regulars as well, she said, and she's seeing more families with children.

The nice thing about working in Pea Ridge, she said, was that everyone seems to know everyone, and everyone is fairly friendly.

This sentiment was echoed by the city's newest dentist, Dr. Barry Henbest, who opened his own practice, Henbest Dental, in November 2016.

"I live on the east side of Rogers," he said, "and I was working over on the west side, what I call the gauntlet, and I just wanted to get away from all the traffic."

He went to elementary school in Pea Ridge, he said, so he has roots in the town. But while he doesn't live in it, he finds it's a great place to work. He can relax on his commute, he said, rather than worrying about the horde of traffic surrounding him on all sides and forcing him to keep his wits about him for every moment.

An easier start, he said, makes the whole workday better. And he isn't alone in seeking an easier commute, he said. Several of his patients, he said, come from Bella Vista, Bentonville and Rogers to avoid the traffic they'd face to visit a nearer clinic.

He said he's been trying for half a decade to get out of the practice he was working with and start his own in Pea Ridge.

Part of this, he said, is the growth in Bentonville and Rogers has simply been more than he can really enjoy. Pea Ridge, he said, is close to being what Rogers was a few years back -- a small town that one can enjoy.

The people, he said, are easier to get along with, and easier to connect with. Moreover, he said, people are more open. In the larger towns, he said, everyone is just another face in the crowd.

"I don't know how to describe it, but the people are more real," he said. "Everybody I meet knows someone I know. There's just some kind of connection with everyone I meet in Pea Ridge."

General News on 02/01/2017

Print Headline: House building boom hits Pea Ridge; growth is good

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