The Free Press, Mankato, MN


January 5, 2014

Construction in city expected to reach $128 million

$128 million in private construction expected

MANKATO — This year will bring at least $128 million in private construction in Mankato if city estimates are realized, and the figure could go substantially higher if several tentative projects move forward.

The $46 million Wal-Mart distribution center, set to begin construction in May, is the largest single project. But numerous other multi-million-dollar projects are in the pipeline, said City Manager Pat Hentges, and 150 new homes with a combined value of $20 million are projected to be built in 2014.

All told, the construction value of the 2014 work should reach $128 million — matching the figure from 2001, when the housing market was booming and numerous big-box stores and strip malls were being constructed in Mankato.

Hentges credits the Mankato area's designation as a metropolitan statistical area for the growing interest in private development in the city.

"All of a sudden, you hit the map and they realize this is a small urban area and it has a regional draw," he said.

The area has also withstood the Great Recession better than many others and appears ready to take full advantage of a recovering economy.

"We probably weren't hit as hard as most, and we've recovered quicker than most," Hentges said, adding that the recovery may be most obvious to construction firms and their workers in the months ahead. "At least for the construction industry, there should be a huge rebound."

Along with the Wal-Mart distribution center, a second as-yet-unidentified distribution center is expected to be constructed on the east side in 2014 and is projected to cost as much as $10 million. Two new downtown buildings between Front Street and Riverfront Drive will total $12 million and a large apartment complex on long-vacant land north of the Madison East Center is projected to cost nearly $9 million.

The construction cost of the new Kia dealership just west of Rasmussen College is projected to be $7 million. The apartment complex east of the Hilltop Hy-Vee, where one large apartment building is completed and another is under construction, will see a third $2.6 million building added later this year. A facelift and expansion of a Stadium Avenue strip mall will bring another $2.5 million in construction work.

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