On the heels of recent economic forecasts that reflect a brightening business climate, the city of Kalispell released its own appraisal underscoring the improvements.
The city issued 257 total building permits valued at $46.36 million last year, the second highest value in the past five years, according to the 2013 Construction, Subdivision and Annexation Report. Officials from the city’s building and planning departments published the annual summary of activity in Kalispell two weeks ago, painting a favorable picture that echoes economists’ descriptions of a recovering — and even expanding — Flathead economy.
The city issues permits for most projects of all types of construction, including new development, remodels or additions.
Kalispell saw a 44 percent increase in building permits last year. The bulk of those permits — 164 — were for residential construction, which saw the most activity since 2008. Commercial construction was up last year by 25 permits, but finished around the five-year average.
The value of overall construction in Kalispell was roughly $8.39 million lower than in 2012, but still came in as one of the highest in recent years. It was considerably higher than during the recession, when Kalispell averaged only $28 million between 2010 and 2011.
Along with featuring an exhaustive breakdown of commercial and residential development, the city report explains growth patterns in Kalispell and the entire county.
Local planning staff and economists expect the population of the area to keep rising, but at a slower rate than over the past decade. The seventh largest city in Montana, Kalispell experienced a 40 percent increase in population from 2000 to 2010, the largest percentage growth among the 10 largest cities. Bozeman was second with 37 percent growth, followed by Missoula with 17 percent.
When the Great Recession hit, Kalispell’s population dipped to barely 2 percent growth between 2010 and 2012.
“Loss of jobs and/or lack of job opportunities that are related to the decline in both commercial and residential construction has resulted in some residents leaving the area in search of employment,” the city report states. “In the short term, the next three to four years, this is expected to stabilize and reverse as the economy strengthens.”
There were 124 permits issued for new homes last year. It was the second year in a row that Kalispell saw an increase after declines every year since 2004, when there were 480.
Non-residential construction, like commercial development, picked up yet again last year, with 171,059 square feet of new spaced added in the city. The most significant development was Cabela’s, which opened a 42,164-square-foot retail outlet in Phase 3 of the Spring Prairie development on U.S. 93 North and Treeline Road. Construction also began on a new 23,738-square-foot Fred’s Appliance store on U.S. 93 South. The lot around Cabela’s continues to fill up, with construction already underway on a 6,882-square-foot Mackenzie River Pizza Grille and Pub, as well as a 10,000-square-foot retail shell named The Shops that will house several businesses.
This year likely promises further growth, particularly around the emerging north portion of the U.S. 93 Alternate Route and the section of land near Kidsports Complex known as Victory Commons, a 28-acre section of state-owned school trust land being eyed for commercial development.
To read the full report, visit www.kalispell.com.
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