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Economic indicators pointing up in Livingston County

A seller’s market in Livingston County real estate, a record number of building permits, increased equity in homes, major decrease in foreclosures, major manufacturing investments, development around the Latson Road interchange, and a jail expansion are all signs that the economy is heading up in Livingston County.

That was the positive message delivered Tuesday to those at the Good Morning Livingston program of the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce by Belinda Peters, Livingston County administrator; Shea Charles, Howell’s city manager; and Gary McCririe, Genoa Township’s supervisor.

In the works is a Taco Bell for South Michigan Avenue in Howell, a USA 2 GO/Tim Hortons for the Laston Road interchange area, and a Red Olive restaurant at the old Prairie House location on Grand River Avenue in Genoa Township.

Charles said that plans to renovate and expand St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital on Byron Road will help with investment in that area.

“Developers are also buying raw land,” Charles said, “which is another good (economic) sign.”

Howell’s historic downtown survived the recession well, with vacancy rates never above 15 percent. Today, that vacancy rate is 5 percent, and the downtown is running out of retail space.

“It’s a great problem to have,” Charles said.

Thai Summit is adding on a total of 126,000 square feet to its two plant locations in the city, and it is looking to connect them, as well.

Peters said the “most significant” change in the Livingston County real estate market is that after vanishing in the recession, home equity has staged a big comeback.

The average sales price, she said, is $210,000, and the majority of homes selling are in the $200,000-$400,000 range.

There is a possible expansion for the St. Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital Woodland Center location, and St. John Providence Health System is considering its options for the former Latson Road Elementary School site, McCririe said.

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