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Remodeling continues in Park Rapids while new home construction slows

While new residential homes have decreased in 2009, Park Rapids homeowners continue to remodel and improve existing homes.

PARK RAPIDS - Park Rapids homeowners are continuing to remodel their properties despite a tough economic year.

City planner Dan Walker said that residential remodels or additions have totaled 71 through August of this year. The total amount of the remodels is $725,010.58.

In 2008, there were 108 residential remodels or additions through August totaling $737,588.45.

But overall, building permits are lagging in 2009 with fewer single family homes and commercial construction.

"It's definitely been an unprecedented year," Walker said. "With all the foreclosures, people just aren't building."

In 2009, there has been just one permit issued for a new single family home through August compared with 11 in 2008.

Walker said he wasn't expecting building permits to be up in 2009 but it has been slower than he anticipated.

The past few years had large commercial projects, including J&B Foods, St. Joseph's Area Health Services and Walmart. In 2009, there haven't been any large commercial projects, Walker said.

"Probably the last typical year was 2005, with no big projects," he said. "We had 25 new single family homes."

Looking at total permits, there have been 106 through August 2009 for a total of $1,718,346.58. Comparing to a typical year, there were 151 permits through August 2005 for a total of $7,178,566.51.

Walker said he hasn't seen anything to indicate building is turning around.

"There's no tell-tale sign," he said. "I anticipate next year things will start to turn around. It depends on people's confidence."

Park Rapids has applied for a Small Cities Development Grant through the Hubbard County Regional Economic Development Commission. Commercial remodels could increase next year if the city receives that grant, Walker said.

People have continued to remodel their homes by adding new windows or siding.

"Typically, you'll see more remodels in down times," said Park Rapids building inspector Dave Neisen.

He also serves as a building inspector for other area communities and said he has seen similar trends in other cities.

He also hasn't seen any indication that people are starting to build again but thinks it might turn around in the next year.