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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Not So Infectious: Saint Paul Shows Strength in Tough Housing Market

Please click onto the COMMENTS for the story.


Blogger Bob said...


Commentary by DSI Director Bob Kessler

For years, the strength of the markets outside of the urban cores has been new housing. Open space and more options gave communities a significant base with which to lure residents with inexpensive housing.

Now the bubble has burst, and the sound of that has drawn the attention of economists and leaders who point to the decline in new home construction and the rise in foreclosures as a harbinger of more dire economic news. Every new month brings new projections of economic decline, seemingly pinned on the notion that new construction is the key to the viability of the housing market.

That may be the case in many newer communities, but in Saint Paul and Minneapolis new housing construction isn’t our main strength, and that could be the advantage that allows the urban cities to maintain and grow its quality of life for current and new residents. That lack of new construction is offset by remodeling and additions, and although less new construction in the suburbs may affect the cities indirectly, the ongoing stability of the number and value of remodeling projects and additions has insulated the city from feeling any significant overall decline in construction.

In Saint Paul, the annual number of permits issued for residential remodeling and additions far outdistances the number of permits issued for new construction. In 2006 the City issued 6,244 addition/remodel permits compared with 143 permits for new construction. In 2005, the final year of the Housing 5000 program, additions and remodels represented more than $141 million in construction valuation while new construction was valued at just $21million. (The peak year for Housing 5000 was 2004 when the value of new construction was $45.4million, compared with $96 million for additions/remodels). The total value of additions and remodels in Saint Paul has consistently remained the largest portion of the city’s housing construction activity by a large margin over the last 15 years.

The concern and attention to the increasing number of vacant buildings in Saint Paul parallels the concern about the dearth of new housing construction: It doesn’t tell the whole story.

While the total number of registered vacant buildings is up, the number removed from the list each month is increasing. The first 11 months of 2007 saw 400 structures reoccupied and 37 demolished for a total of 437 removed from the list with 1,028 added during the same period. In November, we saw the number added and removed to be just about equal – a positive sign, indicating that our work in addressing the vacant building problem is starting to pay off.

Furthermore, in Saint Paul most registered vacant buildings can not be removed from the vacant building list and reoccupied unless all the code deficiencies are addressed. So that means that the houses that are removed and reoccupied are being brought up to code under permits inspected by the city, in many cases achieving a higher quality standard than before they were registered as vacant. While the vacant structures in the city pose a problem, it’s a manageable one that is under control.

While not immune to the troubles of the larger metro area and country as a whole, a closer look at the trends in Saint Paul shows a situation that’s not so dire. Saint Paul has a strong base of housing that is in a constant state of renewal; and this allows the City to prosper even in difficult economic times.

Bob Kessler

Director of the Department of Safety and Inspections

City of Saint Paul

8 East 4th Street, Suite 400

Saint Paul, MN 55101

9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah the number of vacants is managaable if they just tear down the number they want to come off the list and then call it success? You are a retard Kessler

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since when is it a good thing that 9% of the vacant buildings have been demolished ! Who is going to pick up the tax liability of those 9% - the REST OF US, that's who....

7:07 PM  
Blogger Nancy Lazaryan said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nancy, I come here for entertainment. Attempting to figure out what Sharon is saying in a post is NOT entertaining or educational.

I will continue to ignore her post versus expending large amounts of time into decifering what the hell she is trying to say.

Bob has refered to A Democracy as a booya. Well Bill and Sharon are the fruits on the table.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in St.Paul today so I decided to drive around a few neighborhoods including Jessamine... I was shocked! There are five vacant lots with in a block of my old house.

Then as I looked around the area and drove a bit further east I found that a good percentage of the homes either had a blue registered vacant card on them, a for sale sign in the yard or both!

I am just wondering if all these homes are going to have to do complete code compliances and how many will turn into more vacant lots...? I am still shocked at the number of them I seen, it is unbelievable!!!

What a shame it is too because each one of them housed a family at one time and I am sure held many memories to that family, then it made me wonder also what happened to the family as far a housing goes.

It appears to me that the city has a bigger problem with vacant homes then they lead a person to think.

Nancy O.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

9:52 PM

A Democracy as a booya.
Apparently Bob Kessler was referring to all the great people that comment at A democracy like Chuck, Eric, Nancy, Bob, George, Sharon, Bill and the others for their row in making good blog reading.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Nancy forgiving you are caring about the neighbors you left behind when you were forced from the city into exile in the northern woods. Thoese neighbors didn't want to stand by you when the city was tearing down your fact I remember the guy next door telling the news reporters that he thought it was a good idea even though he had never had any problems with you. Screw those neighbors, they are now going to reap what they have sewn. We'll see how many people stand by them as one by one the city demolished every house in the neighborhood for their developer buddies to come in and build new ones. Screw the city and screw those neighbors, I hope they all lose their home after the way they treated you.

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And another thing......Nancy L is always here talking about how the neighbors should know each other and stick together. This is a classic example of what Nancy L is talking about. TOGETHER WE STAND AND DIVIDED WE FALL. This neighborhood is going to fall. After they build all those new houses, the increased value of those new houses will raise up the values of whatever houses are left, thus raising the taxes a time when double digit property tax increases are already driving people out of their homes. Yeah.....the terrible Nancy O is gone and values are going to go up! Isn't it great? Everyone complains about their values being affected by people like Nancy O, well now the terrible witch is gone, the values will go up, and whoever can afford to stay gets to pay the increased tax bill for their party. Way to go St Paul. Let's hear it Lee Helgen. You have done a real service for the neighborhood. Step on in here and take credit for it Lee!

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More good news Lee: Nancy O run out of town, Divas closed up, big development happening on the corner of Winipeg, and the neighborhood still going down the tube.......slipping into that "Helgen Zone" if you will. Can you tell us why Lee?

12:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well St.Paul is clear from worry of a terrorist attack, terrorist only attack highly populated areas! So the city has focused on safety, lower population lower risks.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kesslers comments are whip cream on horse shit!

2:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About Bob Kesslers and Lee Helgen, they always treated me as a equal. You have done real good by cleaning house of what others call the undesirables.
You are making my old homes I own worth more then I could believe,
now just to sell them before I go brook.

3:37 PM  

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