NEWARK -- A proposed townhome complex near City Hall would be a relatively small project in a small city, but it may be a big sign that the Bay Area's beleaguered housing-construction market is ready to rebound.
That is what city officials and construction industry leaders are saying about a proposed 14-unit development that the City Council approved Thursday night. It would be Newark's first new housing of any stripe in more than a decade.
"There are definitely indications of a housing turnaround," City Manager John Becker said. "Developers believe the market for townhome-style housing and more high-density homes will be the first to come back."
The proposal calls for four three-story buildings containing three-bedroom townhomes at 6249 Thornton Ave., a two-thirds-acre parcel between Newark Boulevard and Arden Street.
The development might hardly be a blip on the radar in boom times, but it and others like it indicate that home construction is percolating statewide for the first time since the 2007 bust, said Mike Winn, president and chief executive officer of the California Building Industry Association.
Industry leaders gauge growth by looking at the number of building permits, which appear to be on the rise, especially in coastal areas ranging from San Diego to Marin, Winn said. About 45,000 permits were filed statewide in 2011 and they increased to 55,000 in 2012,
"Forecasts say 65,000 building starts will be filed
Khurram Iqbal of Eden Homes LLC, the project's San Jose-developer, hopes the units -- with individual sizes ranging from 1,550 to 2150 square feet -- each will be sold for a price between $400,000 and $500,000.
Once the city issues a building permit, the project likely will break ground next spring and, barring unforeseen circumstances, construction would be completed by summer 2014, said Michael Ma, the development's Cupertino-based architect.
Newark primarily has been a single-family residence area since it incorporated in 1955, but new developments of high-density housing would be an exciting change, said Terrence Grindall, the city's community development director.
The complex approved Thursday might be just the beginning, as another project -- the Dumbarton Transit Oriented Development -- calls for 500 new high-density homes to be built on the western edge of town.
"The inventory for homes is the lowest it's been in years, and there's pent-up demand," Becker said. "That bodes well, especially for a new housing market."
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.