Clovis grows despite BRAC

By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer

A summer swoon brought on by the announcement that Cannon Air Force Base was targeted for closure appears to be easing, according to area officials.

Gross receipts taxes for the first nine months of this year are up 7.84 percent from 2005 and 36 percent from 2001.

Gross receipts are a good indicator of economic growth, Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas said.

“In May and June (the economy) flattened out but it seems to be starting to pick back up again.”

Home sales, retail sales and new home construction slowed in the months following the May announcement, according to field professionals.

“It was really busy the first part of the year before BRAC and then it slowed down. I think it will bounce back,” said Kathy Rice of Kenneth Realty.

An agent from American Real-estate believes Clovis residents are more concerned with selling their homes than buying.

“There’s been an outgrowth of listing within three months and a lot of timid buyers” Ashley Grant said.

Benny Pacheco, an agent from Associate Real Estate, whose clientele is predominantly working class Mexican-Americans, placed the blame elsewhere.

“When gas prices went up sharply two months ago it affected the working man’s confidence in buying,” Pacheco said.

Zala Smith, mortgage broker, said her view is that the mortgage business “flattened out” when Cannon was put on the list. She said since Cannon was placed on enclave status in August “things are slowly picking up, but they are nowhere near where they were before.”

Cindy Banister, property manager of North Plains Mall, said the shopping facility has felt the crunch.

“It’s been difficult to get people to lease in the mall, when they thought the base was closing,” Banister said.

In 2003 retail space in the mall was 100 percent leased out. Now it is 80 percent leased,” Banister said.

In terms of direct retail sales, Banister said the back-to school run was strong and fast, then sales slowed off after the end of August, she said.

Sales in the most general of terms, according to the gross receipts; has remained steady over the last few months, according to Mayor David Lansford.

“I think they are up from last year,” Lansford said. He said he has seen no changes since the enclave status was announced. “Receipts are as expected,” Lansford said.

New home construction has slowed down since BRAC, while the remodeling market has skyrocketed.

City Commissioner Randall Crowder and builder said the home building has bottomed out since the BRAC decision.
He said only one single family residence permit was issued in August. Only four permits were issued in September, according to Crowder.

“We have lost our confidence in the market,” Crowder said. “I think it is coming back though.”

County Commissioner Ed Perales is a building contractor who strictly remodels old homes.

“The trend has been on the positive side for us since the BRAC decision,” Perales said. “We are selling more products than ever.”

Perales said people are just not willing to spend $100,000 on a new home right now, but they are looking to remodel previously built homes.

CNJ staff writer Tonya Garner contributed to this report.