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Permit numbers show recessions effects

Across the lakes area, permit numbers provide a numerical look at the Great Recession’s effects.

In Baxter, housing construction — up to 90 new homes in 2005 — dropped to six in 2011. Last year, the city saw a rebound of 10 permits issued for new homes.

The Crow Wing County Land Services Department reported building permits rose 32 percent between 2011 and 2012. The county issued 991 building permits last year compared to 752 permits in 2011.

Of those permits, 189 in 2012 were for new home construction compared to 133 new homes in 2011, an increase of 42 percent.

In Baxter, the overall number of permits — for new homes, commercial construction, electrical, plumbing and mechanical changes — began dropping in 2007. The city of Baxter issued 1,036 permits in 2006. It dropped each year after that, making a singular fall between 912 permits in 2008 down to 639 in 2009. The number of permits continued to drop each year down to 575 in 2011 before finally climbing in 2012 to 693.

Baxter’s new home permits provide a quick look at the recession’s effects.

Permits included:

• 2004 — 81.

• 2005 — 90.

• 2006 — 73.

• 2007 — 25.

• 2008 — 15.

• 2009 — 14.

• 2010 — 9.

• 2011 — 6.

• 2012 — 10.

In Brainerd, where neighborhoods were already populated, the recession had the opposite effect as people put money into fixing existing homes and properties.

“Our permits have almost doubled since 2005,” said Tim Caughey, Brainerd’s building official. “Everybody started improving the existing housing. It has a reverse effect. It’s been an improvement for us. We’re seeing investment in the existing housing stock.”

Beyond housing, Caughey said the city had improvements on its commercial buildings as well.

There were 565 overall permits issued in the city in 2006 — everything from a curb cut to a commercial addition. By 2011, the total number of permits rose to 909. Last year, the total number of permits equaled 890 for a valuation of $5.2 million.

Brainerd has areas of new residential development, such as Northtown off Beaver Dam Road and the city’s southside.

New home building changed. In 2005, Brainerd issued 80 permits for new residential construction and one for a multi-family structure. In 2012, the city issued one new residential construction permit and one multi-family building.

Caughey said if people try to compare building activity and permits in Brainerd to Baxter, it’s like comparing apples to oranges because the two communities are so different in terms of age of structures.

RENEE RICHARDSON, senior reporter, may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

Renee Richardson
Richardson is a Pacelli High School graduate from Austin, Minn., who earned an applied science degree from the University of Minnesota, Waseca, with an emphasis in horse management. She worked extensively in the resort industry. She received an associate’s degree from Central Lakes College, where she was editor of the Westbank Journal student newspaper, as well as a summer intern at the Dispatch. She graduated from St. Cloud State University summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and interned at the St. Cloud Times covering business while attending SCSU. She's been with the Brainerd Dispatch since 1996.
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