The value of construction in the city of Princeton was down 14 percent this year from 2011.
If it hadn’t been for the construction of the Walmart store, the decline would have been much greater.
The estimated value of all construction within the city – including additions, remodeling, fire sprinkler systems, decks and commercial antenna changes – totaled more than $9.3 million in 2012, compared to $10.84 million in 2011. The number of building permits was also down, with this year’s 153 permits being 37 fewer than a year ago.
The largest construction project this year was the 120,807 sq. ft. Walmart store located at the interchange of Highways 169 and 95.
The total value of the Walmart building, according to the building permit data supplied by the city, is close to $7.6 million or about 80 percent of the value of all construction during the year in the city.
Adding to the commercial work during the year was United States Distilled Products (USDP), which made $74,000 worth of alterations. USDP spent about $10,000 on a sprinkler system, $6,500 to finish a lounge, and $20,374 for offices in a mezzanine.
Another commercial project was the construction of an auction building, valued at $598,000, for the auction business that brothers Mike and Jeff Haehn established at 2001 15th St. N. Permits were taken out for other facets of that auction business, including plumbing, heating, grading and footings, sign, and fencing.
Elim Care & Rehab Center contributed to the commercial work with some remodeling, as did Bremer Bank, South Elementary School, the city’s civic center and the reroofing of the creamery professional building.
Remodeling was the most common permit taken out, especially with the 132 residential projects for which permits were issued. The remodeling ranged from roofing, replacing furnaces, door and window work to finishing a basement, residing a garage and building decks.
Home building appears to have halted in Princeton this year and the city has had very few home-construction gains since 2008, which reflects the country’s housing slump and record number of home foreclosures since then.
Lynn Paulson, the city’s contracted building inspector from Metro West Inspections, says he hasn’t seen much housing construction going on in the Princeton area but has noticed a significant number of permits being taken out in the Otsego area along the Interstate 94 corridor. When builders have been able to get lots at what they consider a reasonable rate and the properties are located where people have quicker commuting times, the construction is picking up, Paulson added. Paulson did point to the city of Princeton’s shortage of empty lots for building single-family homes.
Last year, the heavy hitters in city construction were the addition and remodeling at North Elementary, the start of the expansion of the city’s wastewater plant and USDP’s addition.
Wastewater plant projects, schools, big industrial additions or new industrial buildings, as well as the building of large anchor stores are not that frequent in communities, especially smaller ones. So it is anybody’s guess what will be the big story in next year’s construction in the city of Princeton.