HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Rocket City leaders expect upwards of 50,000 people to move to North Alabama over the next few years. Space Command, if everything stays the course, will bring upwards of 1,600 jobs in 5-6 years.
According to the Huntsville-Madison County Builders Association, new families will likely continue to see the same housing inventory issues beyond Space Command’s timeline.
“If you go back 2-years ago, we were probably building 3,000-3,200 houses a year,” said Barry Oxley, the Executive Officer of the HSV-Madison County Builders Association. “This year we will hit about 4,000. Maybe a little bit more.”
Not only are wait-lists for new houses long, they likely got longer because the price to build a house or anything really, got more expensive as a result of the pandemic. Lumber mills were already busy pre-pandemic. That got worse as quarantine projects boomed and some mills experienced 1 or 2-day shutdowns. Which was enough to overload the process, even breaking some milling equipment in communities like Decatur.
“A 2,000sq foot house in August cost about $16,000 more in materials than it did in March,” said Oxley.
Oxley says that price is dropping a bit, but what does this mean for Space Command families in several years?
“It’s going to continue to be a lot of what it’s like right now. Especially at that price point. That $250-300k price point in our market is the sweet spot,” said Oxley.
With Toyota and FBI jobs being filled or moved and potential Space Command jobs coming in a few years, the home builders association says it’s important to note it can take 1-2 years to clear land before actually building.
In the meantime, the focus is on increasing trade jobs through free education like what the North Alabama Homebuilder Academy provides.
“Last year we put close to 100 new people in the workforce,” said Oxley. “I was talking to one electrician that’s hired 8 of our graduates. He said he’d like to hire 8 more this year.”
The outgoing Air Force administration named Huntsville as the preferred location of Space Command last week. A final decision on Space Command is expected no later than 2023. Former Alabama Senator Doug Jones does not believe the Biden administration will change course.