Construction stays steady
It was by no means a boom - maybe more like a small bang - but building activity in Alexandria is picking up.
That's according to the city's building department report presented to the Alexandria City Council at its meeting Monday night.
Bruce Jaspersen, the city's building official, said that construction continued to "hang in there" during 2010.
The year ended with more than $50.77 million worth of building, plumbing and mechanical work within the city, its orderly annexation area and the outlying townships where its building code applies - Hudson, LaGrand and Lake Mary.
That's a modest 1.3 percent increase from the 2009 projects that were valued at $50.11 million.
New commercial projects were a highlight. Last year, the city issued 17 of those building permits totaling $19.1 million or 38 percent of the total building valuation. This compares to 15 permits issued the previous year that had a valuation of $21.5 million.
In addition to the new commercial projects, the city issued 76 permits for businesses to remodel, repair or renovate their buildings. These projects added $13.5 million to the total valuation.
Last year yielded a strong construction investment in specialty housing in Alexandria, Jaspersen noted in his report. A total of 323 new multi-family specialty dwelling units were built or are under construction.
A new Knute Nelson senior living campus, for example, will contain 244 units of various types. Washington Square - which converted the former elementary school into homes - will contain 28 privately owned units. Lakewood Terrace will add another 36 rental units and Nordic Meadow Apartments will provide 15 units for adults with special needs.
Although it wasn't as robust as the multi-family construction, new single-family home construction "began to move in the right direction in 2010," Jaspersen said.
A total of 27 new homes were built within the city's building code administration. That's up six units from 2009. The value of the home construction dipped slightly, from $4.32 million in 2009 to $4.29 million in 2010.
It was also a fairly busy year for home repair projects. A total of 471 single-dwelling homes were remodeled, repaired or renovated in 2010. The value of the projects was estimated at $3.36 million.
In 2009, the city issued 550 permits for this kind of work and the projects were valued at $4.77 million. Although the numbers dropped, Jaspersen noted a bad hailstorm in 2009 triggered an unusually high number of roofing and siding permits.
Inspections kept the building department busy in 2010. Staff conducted 2,054 inspections.
The department, which includes Jaspersen and three other employees, collected $304,300 in permit fees (including fees from contract services in Alexandria Township) in 2010. That's more than its entire budget of $216,205. The council thanked Jaspersen for the report and approved it on a 4-0 vote.