2021 Building Activity Report Shows Continued Growth in Dauphin & Perry Counties

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The Tri-County Regional Planning Commission’s 2021 Building Activity Report shows Dauphin and Perry counties continued to experience building growth over the previous year, with slight differences in most of the activity sectors, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


In residential development, Dauphin County’s municipalities issued permits for 653 new residential units in 2021, a decrease from the 716 permits issued in 2020.

Conversely, Perry County experienced an increase, with 120 permits in 2021 compared to 105 permits in 2020.

The area’s residential growth continues to occur primarily in the first-ring suburbs with smaller, infill development, matching the national trend in which residents prefer living on smaller lots closer to amenities and services. Lower Paxton Township was the municipality with the largest increase in new housing permits at 269, accounting for 42 percent of Dauphin County’s total.


The region’s new commercial development dropped in 2021, which was not unexpected due to economic uncertainty over the continued pandemic. Between the two counties, 54 permits for new commercial facilities were issued -- 47 in Dauphin and 7 in Perry -- an increase from 39 in 2020. The value of new commercial development in Dauphin County was $110.3 million in 2021, up from $94 million in 2020. The value of new commercial development in Perry County in 2021 was $1.3 million.

In Dauphin County, the number of commercial improvements and expansions also increased, from 371 permits in 2020 to 398 in 2021. The value of those permits was $77.9 million. Perry County also saw an increase, from 2 permits in 2020 to 6 in 2021.

Those permits were valued at $2.2 million.


Perry County again had no industrial activity. Dauphin County’s permits for industrial improvements and expansions remained generally stable, from 18 in 2020 to 19 in 2021. The value of these permits decreased, however, from $6.8 million in 2020 to $6.3 million in 2021. Of the 19 permits, 2 were for new establishments with a total value of $3.13 million. This is a significant decrease in value from 2020, when there were 3 new establishments with a total value of $8.3 million.

Overall, the figures in this report demonstrate a continued pattern of building the local tax-base and providing new job opportunities.

If the inner-ring suburbs continue to grow, it will be crucial to link the region’s transportation options with our land use regulations to ensure that the built environment we desire is achieved and accessible to all, as recommended in TCRPC’s Regional Growth Management Plan.