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Park Rapids sees building boom with early spring

Construction is in full swing in Park Rapids. New home building permits have increased from 2009 and city planner Dan Walker is receiving several inquiries from small business owners. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

Park Rapids is bustling with building activity this week.

After a slow 2009 for construction, 2010 has started out strong.

"We're seeing a lot of activity," said city planner Dan Walker.

Building permits increased significantly in March, according to his planning department report.

The early spring with nice weather brought earlier than usual building activity in the city, Walker said in his report.

He is working on three new housing permits, which is more than all of 2009.

In 2009, remodeling was higher than new building.

"The economy played a significant role in the number of requests we received in 2009," he said in the report. "Tight credit and economic uncertainty limited the ability and willingness of developers to start new projects, especially housing."

A comparison of construction activity over the last five years shows a significant decrease in the number of new residential buildings. In 2009, there was only one new home built. The four years prior had 14, 35, 29 and 29.

New commercial buildings were also lower, with just three in 2009 compared to seven, eight, 10 and five in previous years.

However, remodeling seems to be the trend these days.

"The bright spots for the year were residential and commercial remodels which were both above average, with residential remodel permits the highest since 2005 and the commercial remodel permits collected were double that of 2008," Walker said in his report.

At a recent city council meeting he said that the remodeling numbers show that people are still trying to improve their homes despite the downturn in the economy.

In 2009, there were 103 residential remodels totaling $1,004,698 and 35 commercial remodels totaling $1,032,460.

Four major projects from previous years were completed in 2009: J&B Foods, Innovis Clinic, Heritage Cottages and Prairie Winds Apartments. All of the site work has been completed and they all look great, Walker said in the report.

Other highlights in 2009 included numerous zoning amendments that were passed. The amendments allowed the ordinance to become more efficient and consistent with state enabling legislation, according to the report.

Updates to the landscape ordinance were done in 2009 in order to clarify and strengthen some of the language in the ordinance and to create better spacing of planting material and make the required number of plantings more reasonable. Credit will also be given for existing trees on reuse sights to encourage people to move into existing vacant sites, the report stated.

For 2010, Walker will continue to work on the Heartland Trail Extension by sorting out Right of Way issues along Kaywood Drive. The city could finish the route in the future.

This year is already looking encouraging. Walker said in a report that a few small business owners are looking for property to start new businesses in town.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561