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Home construction on the rise again

The sound of nail guns is echoing through the neighborhoods of Farmington once again.

For the first time in almost three years, the housing construction market in Farmington seems to be picking up, as the number of building permits being issued for single family homes is on the rise.

City of Farmington building official Ken Lewis compiles a quarterly report of the permits issued. His latest report shows that 36 single family housing permits were issued in the first three months of 2010. That's the most single family permits since first quarter of 2006, when 38 were issued.

The city's building boom peaked in 2002, when 295 single family building permits were entered into the books. As the economy and the housing market turned, the number of houses completed slowed dramatically. For the most part, only a few were issued each month. By 2008, construction had dropped to only 33 single family building permits all year.

So to have more than a whole year's worth of permits coming in during only one quarter, well, that's a good sign, Lewis said.

"I think the price of housing and lots have gone down a little bit and people are starting to build again," he said. "There are more coming, too. I don't know what the numbers are for (April) yet, but it's looking good so far."

Lewis has been out and about doing inspections this week. He's got quite a few to do, too. There is construction activity happening in the Mystic Meadows and Parkview Ponds developments south of 195th Street in the middle of town, as well as up on the northeast side, where the Riverbend and Meadow Creek developments are coming along.

It's an encouraging sign for the city's budget, too, since building permit revenue plays a good part in the annual revenue for this community. As the Farmington City Council mulled over the 2010 budget last year, council members chose to go with a conservative estimate for building permit revenue. Lewis thinks the building activity will continue, and it's likely the city will hit those goals.

"I believe it's going to be steady. I don't think we're going to see a great fluctuation, but we're at a steady pace and I think we're going to hit our goals this year," he said.

Back in 2006, when the city had 38 single family permits in the first quarter, another 44 permits for townhomes were issued at the same time. That's not the case this year. There haven't been any townhome developments to come to the city since 2008. As far as Lewis knows, no townhome developments are on the books right now.



Every time Lewis provides the building permit updates, he also provides a population estimate. That "best guess" is determined by the number of certificates of occupancy -- issued when homes are completed -- multiplied by 2.95, which according to the 2000 Census is the average number of occupants in a Farmington home.

It's been the method used to estimate population throughout most of the decade. Once the actual 2010 Census data is released, Lewis will compare the city's projections against the actual data to see how close the two are.

As his report now stands, Farmington had an estimated population of 21,716 at the end of March.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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