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Dickinson construction playing catch up: City issues more than $300M in permits through Nov.

The city of Dickinson issued building permits for single-family homes, like these shown in north Dickinson on Wednesday, valued at more than three times as much in the first 11 months of 2012 as it did in the same period of 2011. Dickinson issued 130 permits for single-family homes from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30, 2011. In that same period this year, the city issued 579 permits for single-family dwellings.

In the first 11 months of 2012, Dickinson issued permits for more than $300 million worth of construction in a city trying to catch up with the droves of people coming to the Oil Patch to seek their fortune.

The largest sector of growth was commercial structures, followed by single-family housing, according to data provided by the North Dakota Association of Builders.

"It's really not something we've seen in North Dakota in recent history, that's for sure," said Doreen Riedman, executive director of the NDBA. "It's really quite remarkable. Hats off to all the people who are working awfully hard."

Williston had the highest permit values of any North Dakota city, with more than $418 million worth of construction permitted as of Nov. 30, according to data provided on the city's building department website. This number includes alterations, manufactured homes and accessory buildings such as garages.

The city, which many describe as ground zero of the Oil Patch, saw an increase in permit values of 17 percent from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30 over 2011's $357 million total.

Dickinson surpassed $300 million by the end of November, breaking 2011's record-breaking $123 million by 147 percent.

"The development activity is continually increasing," Dickinson City Planner Ed Courton said. "I would anticipate the rate and the assessed value will be similar to this record year for the next several years."

There are a few major projects that will likely have building permits issued in 2013, he said, including a clinic, hospital and much of a retail development in west Dickinson that is to include a grocery store, hotels and other retail endeavors.

$121 million in homes

Dickinson saw an increase of 311 percent in the permitted value of single-family home construction in the first 11 months of 2012 over the same period in 2011, based on data provided by NDBA.

This year the building of 579 homes with a combined construction value of more than $121 million was permitted in the city as of Nov. 30. In that same period last year, the city granted permits for 130 homes with a construction value of more than $29 million.

"This year has been just a wonderful year for home building," Riedman said. "We started out with a mild winter and got off to a great start."

The construction of single-family homes and other owned dwellings is important to building communities, Riedman said.

"Studies have shown nationwide that higher homeownership numbers lead to better community spirit, better community values, lower crime rates, there's just a whole host of positives that go with homeownership in a community," she said.

Williston, which had a 41 percent increase in construction of single-family and multi-family housing and commercial buildings from Jan. 1 to Nov. 30 over the same time the previous year, had a decrease in single-family construction, dropping to more than $39 million in 2012 from more than $48 million in permitted construction the previous year, based on data provided by NDBA.

The increase in housing will also bring commercial endeavors, Riedman said.

"Major retailers look at rooftops," she said. "With a home often is a family. So you maybe have a major breadwinner and then you have another spouse who is able to work in different jobs."

Rapid growth in the commercial sector is probable for the next few years, Courton said.

"We had residential and industrial growth first, and then commercial lags behind that," he said. "Now that our population is roughly close to 25,000, we're starting to get to that magic number that a lot of national retailers and other state retailers" use as a threshold.

North Dakota's largest city, Fargo, saw an increase of 21 percent in the value of all permitted construction, based on data provided by the city.

The value of single family construction increased 55 percent, from more than $120 million in 2011 to more than $186 million in 2012 between Jan. 1 and Nov. 30, based on data provided by NDBA.

The rate of growth in western North Dakota is incomparable to the east, Fargo Inspections Administrator Ron C. Strand said.

"Of course not," he said when asked if Fargo had grown as rapidly as Dickinson or Williston. "Maybe (Fargo) at its inception ... that's major growth."

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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