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Worthington's city building permits slow in 2013

WORTHINGTON — The amount of building permits issued in the city of Worthington declined in 2013.

However, the one-year slowdown doesn’t concern Brad Chapulis, director of community and economic development.

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“If there were multiple years of that activity, it would concern me,” Chapulis said. “However, going back and looking at the historical numbers, it falls right into that trend of having a slow period following a very fast-paced period or an extended fast-paced period.

“If you look at it historically — if you look at 20-year performance of building activity — this falls into the ebb and flow of the construction activity,” he continued. “Historically we have two or three good years of building activity, and then the local economy takes a step back and a deep breath before the next surge of development.”

In 2013, the city of Worthington issued a total of 592 permits for new construction. The total value of those was $8,651,931.

“The summary report provides a snapshot of the building activities for the previous year and shows that snapshot for the last five years to kind give an idea of the building construction within the five years,” Chapulis said. “What you can see there is we did have a down tip in the building activity in 2013. It’s below the five-year average of $18 million.”

A year ago, the city issued 670 permits, which were worth more than $30 million. It was only the second time since 1984 the city topped that mark.

“All it takes is one or two large projects to pump that up,” Chapulis said. “In 2012 — I believe that includes the Avera clinic, which was a large investment. There are several that fall within that category. The primary difference in the new numbers (is in) the new commercial and industrial development; we went from $18 million in 2012 to $1.3 million. That’s where you can see we took a step back and a deep breath.”

Chapulis said the early indication into 2014 is that the permits will pick up.

“We were very active in construction from 2009 to 2012 and this is just that one year step back, I envision,” he said. “All indications with the conversations we’re having in regard to proposed development that would commence in 2014 would give us an indication that 2013 was that deep breath for the local construction activity.”

Nine less remodeled commercial and industrial permits were issued in 2013 compared to 2012. Half of the residential garages and additions were done, and storage sheds, decks and fireplaces were also down from a year ago. 

Four new single-family dwellings were constructed in 2013. In total, only three more dwelling units were added — much less than the hundreds of units needed in Worthington. 

“It potentially has the ability to have an impact on our ability to grow,” Chapulis said. “That’s why we completed the 2013 needs assessment and why (Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp.) has identified housing as being a priority and has taken the initiatives of trying to move something forward. We, being the city, and WREDC and others continue to try and find housing developers or partners to develop the housing needs of the community.”

In a five-year period, the city has issued 3,395 permits, worth $94 million. Half of that — $47 million — is in new commercial or industrial additions. 

The public sector invested $12 million within that five-year period.

“The one thing that you can see is most of the construction activity is still not being persuaded by the public sector — the city, the county and school district,” Chapulis said. “If you look at years past, the late ’90s and early 2000s, numbers were in the tens of millions, but yet, six or seven million was public institutional type of investment. This is primarily still the private sector playing the most significant role in the growth of our community.”

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.