City foresees Homearama’s benefits

Published 10:50 pm Friday, September 16, 2011

Buildings in the Homearama development are under construction for the showcase, set for next month. Homearama can generate thousands of dollars in tax revenue for the city.

When Suffolk hosts its third Homearama next month, the city will get more than just nine new expensive houses added to the tax rolls.

Suffolk officials look forward to the promise of an economic boost from the 17-day Homearama event itself.

The showcase allows home construction and design specialists to show off their talents to gain business, but the event also impacts other organizations, including the city.

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Tuck Bowie, the chair for Tidewater Builders Association’s municipal affairs committee for the city of Suffolk, said Homearama can contribute thousands of dollars to the city’s tax rolls, both during the event and on a continual basis.

“Any time you can get 50,000 to 100,000 people to come into a city over two weeks, it’s got to have a positive impact,” he said.

One of the big benefits the host city gains is the ability to collect real estate taxes on nine massive new homes.

But an even bigger boost for the city, he said, comes from the people who travel into Suffolk for the event.

Bowie said many of the extra people in the city will visit other businesses, such as retail shops and restaurants, before they head home.

“With all this traffic out there for two weeks, people will go out there and then they will want to eat dinner,” he said. “There will be other dollars spent in the peripheral of Homearama.”

These Homearama attendees can stop for lunch or dinner, head to a shopping center or even explore other areas of the city while they are here.

Some of those visitors might even decide they want to move to Suffolk, which is a huge boost for the city.

The extra people also are good news for other home markets in the area.

For example, Bowie’s company Terry Petterson Companies, built the Gables, a development of condos, across the street from the Homearama site.

He said the company is excited to meet with the people who come to Homearama and fall in love with the area but don’t want to spend the money one of the featured homes.

“Not everybody can afford a $500,000 house, so we offer another opportunity right across the street,” he said.

In addition to bringing in people, Homearama can also bring in jobs, Bowie said. But it’s more than just the creation of construction jobs — the event also encourages job continuation.

Bowie said Homearama can create new opportunities for business, and jobs for workers come with those opportunities.

“These builders build in Homearama with the hope people will want them to build another home in the Riverfront or somewhere else,” he said.

If a builder is hired to build another house somewhere in or outside of the Riverfront, he will have to have workers.

“It’s all a snowball effect,” Bowie said. “The more houses that can be sold, the more trade partners can be kept employed. It’s just exponential what happens with these things. Homearama is just a great thing. I think it’s a very positive impact for a whole lot of folks.”

Homearama opens Oct. 15 and runs until Oct. 30. Tickets for the event are $10 for a one-day pass and $17 for two days.

The event features nine themed homes ranging from 2,800 to 4,000-plus square feet and priced at $550,000 and up.