by Steven Diegel
SBJ Contributing Writer
Professional office development has experienced steady growth in area communities in recent years, a trend many in the industry feel certain will continue as the demand for professional services continues to rise.
"There has been quite a bit of growth," said Al Gonzales, building inspector for the city of Ozark. "Developers are scrambling for places to build in all of these outlying areas."
Developers from many of the communities surrounding Springfield cited
a number of new and recently completed construction projects and renovations
oriented toward professional business-
And while city officials said their documentation does not distinguish professional services buildings from commercial buildings in general, the number of permits issued in recent years would seem to support this trend.
The city of Branson has already issued 133 permits for business-oriented construction, compared to 843 for all of last year.
The city of Ozark has already issued more than 100 permits this year for all construction projects, compared to
approximately 300 total permits in
Figures from Nixa and other areas also indicate 1998 will be a busy year for professional/commercial construction.
"We have already released nine permits for new businesses and five permits for extensions to existing businesses this year," according to Travis Bingle, planning and development manager for the city of Nixa.
He added that the trend for 1998 should be well ahead of the total 13 permits for new business construction in 1997 and 17 permits in 1996.
Developers have attributed the increase to a number of factors, including rising expectations on the part of professionals many of whom are seeking offices with a newer, more modern appearance located away from much of the retail traffic.
"There is office space available and
older buildings open, but there is not much new space," said Susan Metzger, a member of Ozark Professional Properties LLC.
Metzger, a professional who is situated with several other businesses in the recently completed Stone Ridge Square Office Center in Ozark, said she enjoys the benefits of the new location.
"We wanted a more professional atmosphere, working alongside other offices and professionals," she said.
"This is a lot quieter, much less
trafficked and is designed to suit our-
Bingle and Gonzales attributed much of the increase to the phenomenal residential growth experienced south of Springfield in the past few years at
8.5 percent population growth, the area is one of the fastest growing regions in the state.
Additional residents moving into the communities have created a demand for professional services, which in turn has created a demand for more professional-oriented buildings.
"I think the number will continue to grow," Gonzales said.
"If you stop to consider all of the growth occurring in and around Springfield, there will be more demand for such services."
Not entirely an unpleasant prospect, he added.
"I think it is great," Gonzales said. "We need as much commercial growth as we can get."
Growth in professional services and space to house them is tied to phenomenal residential growth.
Fishing retail shop Modern Outdoor Tackle moved; Healthy Spot LLC opened; and Springfield law firm Strong, Garner & Bauer PC changed names and moved its office.