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Building activity still strong in Alexandria

Work at Shalom Lutheran Church was in full swing this week. It's the 8th largest building project of the year. (Photo by Lowell Anderson)

Construction activity in the Alexandria area appears to be hammering out a "new normal" of between $50 and $52 million a year.

Last year, the Alexandria Building Department issued 1,030 permits for projects valued at $51.64 million, according to the department head Bruce Jaspersen, who presented his annual report to the Alexandria City Council Monday night.

That's a slight drop from 2011's 1,214 permits and $53.03 million worth of construction but more than 2010's $50.7 million. The numbers include work within the city limits as well as the building code administration area of Hudson, LaGrand and Lake Mary Townships.

Jaspersen described the level of construction as stable and noted that since 2006, the annual valuation of construction within his department's building code area has averaged slightly less than $52 million.

He added that if building activity in Alexandria Township was added in, last year's valuation topped $54.75 million.

The council, which unanimously voted to accept Jaspersen's report, was enthused about all the building activity going on in the area.

"It's interesting to see that Alexandria and Alexandria Township are growing while the rest of the state is kind of at a standstill," said council member Dave Benson.

Not everything in the report was positive. There were only 22 new single-family homes built in 2012, matching a 10-year low, and down 13 units from 2011.

"[Home building] has been dropping but it's starting to come back a little bit," said Jaspersen.

He added that although there were fewer permits issued for new homes, their average valuation was significantly higher at $245,819.

Other nuggets from the report:

•The department issued 17 building permits for new commercial projects last year and they totaled $20 million. This compares to 18 permits and $13.23 million value in 2011.

•In addition to the new commercial construction, 71 permits were issued to remodel, repair or renovate commercial buildings. Those projects added $11.6 million to the total valuation.

•During 2012, 445 single-family homes were remodeled, repaired or underwent renovation. These projects totaled $3.53 million. In 2011, 501 permits were issued for this type of work and the valuation was $4.75 million.

•Alexandria Township activity: 76 building permits, 11 plumbing permits and 15 mechanical permits. The estimated value of the work topped $3.1 million. Eleven new homes were built with an average value of $177,349. 55 homes were remodeled or repaired and the work was valued at $502,110. Eight new detached accessory buildings were constructed, adding $152,642 to the valuation. One new commercial building with a value of $227,800 was constructed. Fees totaling $19,186 were collected within the township.

•The building department investigated 97 complaints of public nuisances, such as noxious weeds, tall grass and garbage accumulation.

•The department conducted 2,971 inspections within the city and its code administration area.

•The department's 2012 budget was $248,555. It collected $472,637 in fees and other income. The city gave $27,942 of that back to the state for building permit surcharges.

•Looking ahead, the department hopes to offer an online option to apply for permits, payments and inspections. It's also exploring the idea of installing a kiosk in the City Hall lobby that would allow homeowners and contractors to generate their own permits for roofing, siding, window replacement, plumbing and mechanical change-outs.

•This year's report will be the final one submitted by Jaspersen. He is retiring this June.

Estimated Value of Building Projects in Alexandria Area

2010 - $50,773,741

2011 - $53,034,367

2012 - $51,641,138

Includes building, plumbing, and mechanical work within code enforcement area.

Top 10 local projects:

1. Independent School District 206

Address: 4300 Pioneer Road

Contractor: Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, Circle Pines

Designer: Cuningham Group Architecture, Minneapolis

Description: Footings/Foundation/Exterior Walls for New High School

Valuation: $13,488,892

2. LBR Properties, LLC

Address: 4541 Arbor Crossing

Contractor: Lyon Contracting & Development, St. Cloud

Designer: Cole Group Architects, St. Cloud

Description: 83,289 Square-Foot, 63-Unit Apartment Building

Valuation: $5,040,000

3. Runestone Electric Association

Address: 6875 County Road 28

Contractor: Innovative Builders, Inc., Alexandria

Designer: Ringdahl Architects, Alexandria

Description: 17,057 Square-Foot Office/Storage Addition/Interior Remodel

Valuation: $2,500,000

4. Northern Food & Dairy

Address: 601 3rd Avenue

Contractor: Innovative Builders, Inc., Alexandria

Designer: Widseth, Smith and Nolting, Alexandria

Description: 31,950 Square-Foot Warehouse/Break Room Addition

Valuation: $2,200,000

5. Joint Venture Properties, LLC

Address: 6600 State Highway 29 South

Contractor: Tradesmen Construction, Alexandria

Designer: Ringdahl Architects, Alexandria

Description: New Spine Center Office

Valuation: $1,950,000

6. Runestone Electric Association

Address: 6841 County Road 28

Contractor: J Wiener Construction, Alexandria

Designer: Ringdahl Architects, Alexandria

Description: 17,220 Square-Foot Office, Shop/Storage

Valuation: $1,693,070

7. Living Word Lutheran Church

Address: 1722 16th Avenue

Contractor: Innovative Builders, Inc., Alxandria

Designer: JLG Architects, Alexandria

Description: 26,094 Square-Foot New Church

Valuation: $1,350,000

8. Shalom Lutheran Church

Address: 800 County Road 44

Contractor: ORB Management, Alexandria

Designer: Widseth, Smith and Nolting, Alexandria

Description: 5,000 Square-Foot Church Addition

Valuation: $1,200,000

9. WM3D Properties

Address: 3181 Evergreen Lane

Contractor: Self

Designer: WM3D Properties, New London

Description: Truckstop Interior Remodel, New Pumps, Scale and Canopy

Valuation: $1,000,000

10. Cowing-Robards, Inc.

Address: 1110 North Nokomis

Contractor: Morton Buildings, Alexandria

Designer: Morton Buildings, Alexandria

Description: Boomerang Sports Center

Valuation: $900,000

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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