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‘Best of The Globe 2018' now underway

Worthington saw near-record construction spending in 2017

Pictured is Bedford Industries' newly-remodeled reception area. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / The Globe)1 / 3
Pictured is the Merck Animal Health addition. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / The Globe)2 / 3
Bedford Industries recently began construction of its 110,000-square-foot campus addition, which is expected to be done in 2019. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)3 / 3

WORTHINGTON — The city of Worthington saw an estimated $28.6 million in new construction begin in 2017, far surpassing previous years, according to the city’s annual building permit report.

The total investment is the highest since 2012, when the city saw more than $30.5 million in construction permits. That’s the year Avera Medical Group broke ground on its new $16 million, 60,000-square foot facility.

The catalyst behind the surge was $22.4 million in new commercial and industrial projects and renovations — a huge increase over the $9.5 million average over the previous four years.

Large construction projects tend to heavily affect the numbers; this year is no different. 

Bedford Industries accounted for the largest share of commercial construction with roughly $10 million in investment. Bedford renovated its entrance and on-site fitness center in 2017 and began construction of its 110,000-square-foot campus addition, which is expected to be done in 2019.

Though the new expansion is just underway — concrete footings were laid down late last year and the building’s skeleton will start getting pieced together next week — the new interior renovations have already made an impact.

The entrance was made much larger and the reception area was completely redone to give visitors more space and a more comfortable environment.  

“The first impression is really important and we wanted to create a better first impression,” said Marty Rickers, strategic partnerships and public relations manager. “It certainly does that.”

The new fitness center, which features full workout equipment and showers, is located on the second floor of the building and replaces an old workout room that was seldom used, as it was located “off the beaten path.” Of Bedford Industries’ 325 employees, 125 have registered to use the facility, Rickers said.

Merck Animal Health quietly broke ground on a large expansion in early 2017. The add-on, completed this year on the west side of the building, was built to support the site’s growing vaccine output.

Spending on some public projects was included under commercial development in the report. Major public projects include the new $1.5 million municipal liquor store and Worthington Public Utilities’ new $1.69 million meter building and $1.83 million pump station.

Other notable projects include Marthaler Ford’s remodel, GreatLIFE Worthington’s outdoor pool area, ProfessioNail’s new strip mall and an addition to JBS’ security gate. The report also displayed 189 shingling and siding projects, totaling an abnormally high $2.75 million.

On the housing front, nine single-family dwellings and three two-unit townhomes were built last year, along with the 108-unit apartment complex for Minnesota West students.

“2017 was really a good year,” said Armand Eshleman, Worthington building official. “I hope ’18 is just as good as ’17; that would be great.”

“I don’t doubt that it could be,” added Jason Brisson, Worthington’s community and economic development director. “We’ve got a lot of projects lined up, just from the city side alone.”

This year, the city is expected to begin construction on a new bath house to replace the Beach Nook at Centennial Park and a plaza and pavilion at the Farmer’s Market parking lot on the corner of 10th Street and Second Avenue.

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