Construction still active in Fergus FallsPublished 11:33am Thursday, June 28, 2012
Construction and building project costs in Fergus Falls are lagging slightly behind 2011’s numbers this year, but there’s still plenty of good news, according to information released by the city’s building and zoning department.
As of June 19, construction projects in the city have totaled about $12 million – roughly $8.57 in permitted projects and an additional $3.5 million for the city’s new police station. By the end of June 2011, the construction projects had racked up about $14 million.
“We’re definitely off base from that, but we’re ahead of 2010,” said Guy Taylor, assistant building and zoning manager for the city.
There was only about $6.78 million in building permits in 2010, a strikingly low number in recent years reflective of the lack of confidence in the economy. In 2009, projects totaled $20.5 million, and in 2008, projects totaled $34.7 million, which Taylor believes is the most money ever spent on construction projects in Fergus Falls in one year.
Taylor said that one building sector is still in the doldrums locally: new home construction. So far this year, only two building permits for new houses have been issued, and only seven were issued in all of 2011. Early in the last decade, new home construction was sometimes four times higher than that.
“The interest rates are really appealing, but people are just a little leery of the whole economy (and) they’re just not willing to stick their necks out,” said Taylor.
The biggest in-town construction project this year has been the remodel of the county courthouse, with a construction price tag of about $4 million. The conversion of Lakeland Hospice House to Woodland Lodge is worth around $2 million, and other building projects from Catholic Charities, Minnesota Motor, Otter Tail Coaches and Productive Alternatives have all helped boost this year’s totals.
Though the city isn’t quite on pace to match 2011’s numbers, Taylor said that could change.
“We’ve got some bigger projects going right now, and there are a few more that are being talked about,” he said.
Though he couldn’t give specifics because nothing is official yet, Taylor said some major industrial projects could be in the works, including one potentially worth $2 million.
The number of permits this year is also down slightly from 2011, with 99 as of June 19 compared to 107 through June 2011. However, Taylor noted that May through October are the prime permitting months, so there is still time to boost numbers.
“It would be nice to get more commercial industrial projects for sure,” he said.
Gordon Hydukovich, the city’s community development director and the business agent for the non-profit economic development organization Western Minnesota Industries, reported that he has also seen increased interest in the city from housing prospecters and potential developers. He attributed the increase to a building confidence in the economy, a confidence he believes is likely to continue growing.
As for the city’s bad housing numbers, Hydukovich said he believes it’s only temporary.
“I think we are going to see that switch around,” he said.