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City construction breaks record by $55M

With two weeks left in 2005, Fargo has shattered last year's record construction total by more than $55 million, thanks to a surge in commercial projects.

With two weeks left in 2005, Fargo has shattered last year's record construction total by more than $55 million, thanks to a surge in commercial projects.

The city wrote $293.6 million in building permits through Friday, compared to $238.4 million in all of 2004.

Commercial building permits totaled $81.5 million - more than double last year's total of $39.3 million - due to several major public and private projects.

"There's been a lot of them over a million (dollars)," said Bruce Taralson, plan reviewer in Fargo's building inspections office, noting he wrote a $2.2 million permit Thursday for a 28,800-square-foot commercial building for lease in Liberty Square at 4474 23rd Ave. S.

The Scheels All Sports superstore at 1551 45th St. S. and the Alien Technology Corp. facility in the North Dakota State University research park led the list of private projects, with permits of $16.6 million and $7 million respectively.


Positive media coverage about Fargo's economy attracted national companies, which in turn instilled confidence in developers of smaller projects, said Mike Beaton, a commercial broker with Goldmark Schlossman Commercial Real Estate Services Inc. of Fargo.

"I think they see the vitality and diversity and the robust economy we have here," he said.

A price scare on building materials this summer was short-lived, Taralson said.

"It's like it never stopped," he said. "We're as busy now as we were this summer."

The NDSU Memorial Union addition and renovation marked the largest permit for a public building project at $15.7 million, followed by the Kennedy Elementary School in south Fargo at $7.5 million.

While new housing projects slowed overall, permits for single-family homes increased, from 269 units with a total value of $42.5 million to 338 units valued at $60.3 million so far this year. The average project value increased from $157,868 to $178,308.

The number of twin-home units dropped from 180 last year to 107 so far this year, in part because city lots filled up, Fargo Planning Director Jim Gilmour said.

The largest housing permit granted so far this year is the 50-condo Village Homes at Harwood Groves, 3220 11th St. S., with a value of $8.3 million.


Overall, the growth signifies a healthy economy, Gilmour said.

"Getting that many new commercial properties in town certainly adds to the property tax base," he said.

Things look just as rosy across the Red River.

Moorhead issued a record 936 building permits through November with a total value of $107.8 million - a whopping 41 percent increase over last year's total of $76.4 million.

The total includes a fourth consecutive record year for housing permits, with 513 permits issued through November with a value of $59.7 million.

"We're getting tired of saying it's our best year ever," said Bruce Messelt, Moorhead city manager.

West Fargo reported roughly $106 million in building permits through November, about the same as through November 2004, despite nearly 180 fewer permits than last year.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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