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Nailing it: Construction of new homes in DL was up by a third in 2012, and it doesn't show signs of slowing this year. Nathan Bowe/Tribune

Construction workers are getting busy

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Local contractors have certainly been putting the hammer down this year.

"It's been a very good, busy year," said Detroit Lakes Building Official Dave Neisen, as the 2012 annual building report has been released.

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According to the report, there were 33 new homes built in the city this year -- an increase from 20 new residential in 2011. Although new home construction has been scattered throughout the city, both the south side of Detroit Lakes and the Long Lake area saw the most activity.

There were also a lot of people fixing up or adding to their homes last year -- 232 of them to be exact. That number is up from 205 in 2011, but down from 2010 when it was 248.

New commercial buildings also rose slightly, going from 10 in 2011 to 12 this past year. (Although those numbers are still down significantly from 2009 and 2010 when commercial building permits were closer to the 40 mark.)

"The big ones we saw for commercial were the new Ford dealership, which also had a new dock and lift building built behind there, the new liquor store and most of those businesses in the downtown crossing," said Neisen, who says although the actual buildings of the Downtown Crossing went up in 2011, each individual business then had to take out a permit for a build-out.

But the area of construction that really stood out for 2012 was the small explosion of commercial repairs and additions, which grew from 28 in 2010, to 63 in 2011 and up to 82 in 2012.

"Lakeshirts had a pretty sizeable addition last year, and so did EVCO (which sells petroleum products) in the industrial park," said Neisen, who says he believes these numbers are good indicators for 2013.

"It's good to see commercial build because residential build always follows it," said Neisen. "It inspires more jobs and hopefully brings more people to town."

Neisen says during the winter months, he's typically had the time to take some vacations down in Florida -- not this year.

"The workload is there, but it's always a good thing when you have contractors working in January," said Neisen, who, by the looks of things, might not make it to Florida for a while. "Just in conversations dealing with architects and design professionals, there are a lot of potential things coming up this year again. Not anything huge, just a lot volume."

And just what is coming up for the future? That remains a bit of mystery.

"Nothing specific that I can talk about at this point because it's nothing concrete," said Community Development Director Larry Remmen. "But I will say we've had a lot of discussion with a lot of different builders about the upcoming season (both for commercial and residential), and it looks we're on track for this season to be just as good as last year -- if not better."

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