Construction hammers out $53 million yearConstruction in the greater Alexandria area is continuing along its road to recovery. That’s according to the Alexandria Building Department’s annual report that was presented to the Alexandria City Council Monday night. The department issued 1,214 permits for projects valued at more than $53 million in 2011 – a 4 percent increase from 2010’s valuation of $50.1 million when 1,089 permits were issued.
By: Al Edenloff, Alexandria Echo Press
Construction in the greater Alexandria area is continuing along its road to recovery.
That’s according to the Alexandria Building Department’s annual report that was presented to the Alexandria City Council Monday night.
The department issued 1,214 permits for projects valued at more than $53 million in 2011 – a 4 percent increase from 2010’s valuation of $50.1 million when 1,089 permits were issued.
The numbers include construction work within the city and its building code administration areas of Hudson, LaGrand and Lake Mary townships.
“Over the past decade, construction within the greater Alexandria area has certainly had its ups and downs,” Bruce Jaspersen, the city’s building official, noted in the report. “However, one apparent trend based upon this history, shows that around $50 million in construction seems to be the sustainable norm for our area.”
“I sure like the trend lines of the last couple of years,” said Mayor Dan Ness. “It’s good to see us back in the growth mode again.”
Driving the busy year of building were 18 new commercial projects in 2011. They accounted for more than $13.2 million in valuation. This compares to 16 new commercial projects in 2010 that were valued at $21.9 million.
The department also issued 102 permits to remodel, repair or renovate commercial buildings at a valuation of just under $19.6 million.
Construction of single-family homes picked up last year, increasing from 27 in 2010 to 35. The estimated value was pegged at $6.18 million, up from 2010’s $4.3 million.
Jaspersen noted that 71 percent of the new homes were built inside the city limits.
The average value of the homes built was $176,000, up from 2010’s average of $159,000 but down from 2009’s average of $197,000.
During 2011, 501 single family homes were remodeled, repaired or renovated, adding $4.8 million in valuation. This compares to 471 projects the previous year that were valued at $3.4 million.
Although the construction valuation has bounced up and down during the past decade, the number of permits the building department has issued remains relatively stable, Jaspersen said. The department issued 1,214 permits last year, which is down slightly from the 2004 peak of 1,530 but up from the 2008 low point of 1,057.
Other highlights from the report:
• The building department collected $15,436 in fees from Alexandria Township for building code administration fees in 2011.
• The building department serves a population of about 20,175 and an area that covers about 102 square miles – about three times the area of St. Cloud.
• The building department responded to about 70 nuisance complaints in 2011, such as tall grass, noxious weeds, garbage accumulation, or vehicles parking on non-paved surfaces. Four buildings were determined to be hazardous or unsafe and were repaired or demolished.
• Staff conducted 3,132 inspections within the city and its surrounding building code area.
• The building department’s 2011 budget was $221,710. Permit fees, licensing fees and other miscellaneous income totaled $331,381.
Jaspersen’s report noted that considering the geographic area, population, amount of construction activity and the tasks handled, the department continues to demonstrate that it is extremely efficient.
TOP 10 PROJECTS
The top 10 city permitted projects in 2011:
1. Student housing project at Alexandria Technical and Community College, 318 17th Avenue. Value: $5.12 million.
2. Douglas County Services Center remodeling project, 715 Fillmore Street. Value: $3.81 million.
3. Dining hall and conference center at Lake Geneva Christian Center, 605 Birch Avenue. Value: $3.34 million.
4. Addition (616 square feet) and remodel (55,542 square feet) of Lincoln Elementary School, 1120 Lark Street. Value: $3 million.
5. Addition and interior renovation of Elden’s Food Fair, 707 3rd Avenue East. Value: $3 million.
6. Remodel and addition at Bethany Home, 1020 Lark Street. Value: $2.62 million.
7. New Pain Management Surgery Center and office, 519 22nd Avenue East. Value: $1.5 million.
8. Lake Community Church classroom additions and remodeling, 1751 County Road 44. Value: $1.38 million.
9. Douglas Machine, 6,427-square-foot mezzanine and 9,207-square-foot remodel. Value: $1.27 million.
10. Eight cabins for rental at Arrowwood Resort, 2100 Arrowwood Lane NW. Value: $1.24 million.
IN OTHER ACTION…
In other action during Monday’s meeting, the Alexandria City Council:
• Approved a new agreement to lease Knute Nelson Field to the Northwoods League and the Alexandria Beetles for another five years, through August 15, 2016. The city will receive $350 per game in 2012 and the amount will increase $10 per game over the next four years. The team typically plays 39 home games a year.
• Agreed to accept a $3,635 federal grant to purchase handicapped signs at the city’s polling places. No city match was required.
• Approved a quitclaim deed that conveys 3.38 acres of city land at the fairgrounds back to the Douglas County Agricultural Association with the condition that the association deed the city back a 1.93 acre parcel of land. Back in 2001, both parcels were conveyed to the state armory commission as a potential site for a new armory but the plan fell through. The quitclaim deed and new lease agreement essentially reverts everything back to the way it was before the land was conveyed.
• Was reminded that a work session with the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission is set for February 27 at 5 p.m. at City Hall.
• Was reminded that a meeting with the Downtown Merchants Association to discuss possible improvements to two downtown parking lots on the east side of Broadway will take place at Bella’s on Broadway on February 24 at 8 a.m. The city plans to contact the DMA to see if other stakeholders can be invited to attend the meeting.
• Approved a request from Zion Lutheran Church to shut down three city blocks for the church’s Passion Drama on April 1, from 1 to 6 p.m. and on April 3, from 4 to 9 p.m. The blocks include the 300 block of Lake Street, the 600 block of 4th Avenue East and the 300 block of Maple Street.
• Approved a final reading of an ordinance that will allow members from outside the city limits to serve on the city’s Cable TV Commission if they live within Charter Communication’s service area. Of the five at-large members, three must still live within the city limits. There are three open spots on the commission right now. Those who are interested should contact City Hall.
• Approved several license applications – excavating to Hvezda Excavating; sign hanger to Spectrum Sign Systems; peddler’s to Doug’s Kettle Korn; on-sale beer for Beetles baseball games; temporary on-sale Sunday liquor license to the Alexandria Eagles Club; charitable gambling for Pioneer Power Club, Church of St. Mary’s, ABATE Minnesota, Ladies of the Lake Ducks Unlimited and Alexandria Youth Baseball Association.