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Population figures steadily growing

The West Fargo Planning Department has just released year-end figures for 2007 that once again show ongoing growth for the City of West Fargo as residential and commercial areas thrive.

Population numbers continue to noticeably increase, with current projections at over 26,000 once construction has been completed on the 10,366 dwelling units permitted, of which 6,615 are single family dwellings. These new numbers compare to 24,184 residents at the same time a year ago.

Overall, 2007 showed a slight increase in the growth rate over 2006 in terms of total dwelling units constructed. Single family detached units decreased by 28 percent, single family units (twin homes) decreased by only four units, and multiple family units increased by 200 percent. Within the City, 118 new single family, 66 twin home, and 134 multiple family units were constructed for a total of 318 new dwelling units in 2007, compared to 305 units in 2006.

When correlating the number of units constructed in 2007 to the average number of units constructed annually throughout the 1990's, the City still experienced the construction of more than 1 1/2 times as many single family and twin homes, and nearly four times as many multiple family units.

City Planning Director Larry Weil said that since 2000, the City has added approximately 4,398 dwelling units and 11,000 residents. "The population has grown by about 74 percent since 2000, or by an average of 9.3 percent per year over the 8-year period."

Prior to that, Weil noted that the decade of the 90s was also extremely good, with a 2.2 percent increase per year equating to approximately 22 percent. "When you look at the statistics from the last two years, we're still developing at 1.5 times the average annual rate of the 90s. Those boom years were astounding, and even though things have slowed down a bit, we are still managing growth at a healthy, healthy rate."

If the rate of single family residential development in 2008 were to be similar to that of 2007, the City would have about a 2-2 1/2 year supply of lots for mid-range to upper-scale housing units and a 1/2 - 1/1/2 year supply of lots for twin homes," Weil explained. "It is not unusual to have a two year supply of lots to accommodate normal development patterns. There are very few smaller single family lots available for entry level housing."

Prime areas right now for twin homes and multi-family units are in the Westport Beach and Beaver Creek developments, featuring for the most part, six and eight unit condominium complexes.

On the whole, 2007 was the fourth highest year for total building permit valuation, as well as residential building permit valuation, and the third highest year for commercial building permit valuation.

Statistics show $71.2 million in building permit valuation for the year, of which $41.8 million (59 percent) was residential and $26.9 million (38 percent) was commercial.

Commercial construction also remained strong after two banners years, 2005 and 2006, that saw respective figures of 32.4 million, and 32.2 million, including such projects as Marvin Windows and Trail King.

"We've seen smaller projects this year, but they are still very significant when you take a look, Weil added. "Numbers have escalated since 2003, and since 2005 commercial has been great. We've grown by over 9 percent a year in the last five years, which is almost overpowering, but that's a boom type of construction opportunity. It's been a challenge to keep up, but I think the community has done very well and I feel the potential continues with West Fargo poised for strong growth in the future."

Weil backed this assertion up by citing good interest rates, the excellent general growth of metropolitan areas, and the fact that West Fargo, unlike many other communities, has a solid growth area with trunk line service provided to it that is totally protected from the floodplain, thanks to the Sheyenne Diversion. "We aren't vulnerable to flooding, so we are poised for additional strong residential characteristics."

Senior Planner Steve Zimmer added that the potential for future growth on the Ninth Street corridor is also great once the Ninth Street Interchange, complete with ramps, is realized in 2009. "It's a given that there will be very strong commercial growth and with commercial comes more residential, especially with a school (the Ninth Grade Academy) located there. With the ramps now included with the project, this will open up great opportunity for commercial growth and we'll see an even bigger boom."

Weil agreed. "We're in a tremendously opportune time for West Fargo. Mentioning how the "small gem of 13th Avenue" has prospered, he said Ninth Street presents an even greater opportunity for retail and commercial, which City officials have envisioned for years to help diversity and strengthen the tax base.