Hillside apartments

Hillside Apartments on Division Street in Faribault is the first of three planned multi-family housing projects in the works. All are continuing as scheduled despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. (Misty Schwab/Faribault Daily News)

Northfield-based developer Steve Schmidt had been looking forward to what was sure to be a busy construction season. Now he, along with fellow area construction industry employees, are facing an uncertain time in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Schmidt, president of Schmidt Homes, said the outbreak has already “immensely” impacted construction, postponing construction of a couple of large homes. In addition, the development of 23 residential lots in the last phase of The Hills of Spring Creek development, in southeast Northfield, off of Jefferson Parkway with Erie Drive connecting to the north, has been delayed. “It’s a huge concern,” he said. Part of the problem for Schmidt is he is unsure how long the COVID-19 will impact business. The longer it lasts, the longer he expects it will take the construction industry to fully recover. Prior to the outbreak, Schmidt was expecting a banner construction year. He was looking for employees and carpenters, but the pandemic has caused him to halt planning. “I’m not concerned,” Schmidt said of the ability of his business to make it through the pandemic. “We’re in a good position.” Despite the problems residential construction faces, Schmidt expects commercial building will continue unless the pandemic worsens to the extent that all aspects of the country have to be closed. ‘I’m not too worried about it’ Faribault-based Valentyn Builders owner Andy Valentyn said he’s had a couple customers cancel jobs, but described the impact so far as “just minor.” His business does roofing and siding additions and other design work. “I’m not too worried about it,” he said of the pandemic’s current impact on the construction industry. Valentyn said after the Great Recession, he understood that a future construction downtown was likely, although he hadn’t anticipated it would come in this form. The six months prior to the pandemic had been “insanely busy,” he said, and he had figured that uptick would last through the year. Valentyn said he would be concerned if the pandemic lasts a full year because he anticipates the downturn would have a trickle effect, with people losing jobs and retirees seeing diminishing money possibly being unable to undertake construction projects. Northfield Construction Co. Senior Project Manager Craig Vold also said the outbreak has delayed/postponed residential construction projects and slowed commercial work. Other projects are underway. With residential work, some customers have opted not to have construction workers in their homes, following the guidance of health professionals. “Once we get through this I think things will be back to normal,” Vold said. He is aware that most of the economy is in a holding pattern waiting to see how the pandemic progresses. Despite the slowdown, Vold said scheduled projects are in place because of the growth of the economy, and he doesn’t see that expansion going away in the long term. Faribault Community and Economic Development Director Deanna Kuennen said Faribault is seeing construction continue through the pandemic. She added the Hillside Apartments project is moving forward, and other apartment projects are at different stages of the approval process in preparation for construction later this year. “In addition, just last week the City Council and County Board held a joint public hearing to support a consolidation/expansion project for an existing company,” Kuennen said. “This project involves the construction of a 20,000 square foot addition on an existing industrial building which is planned to be complete by the end of the year.” The Building Division continues to receive building permit applications for commercial/industrial projects. Kuennen noted, however, that permit applications for smaller scale residential projects (remodels, decks, other work) have slowed. “The city of Faribault is doing our part to support economic activity,” she said. “Municipal inspections are considered essential services – and we continue to perform these services on commercial projects following safe practices.”

Northfield-based developer Steve Schmidt had been looking forward to what was sure to be a busy construction season.

Now he, along with fellow area construction industry employees, are facing an uncertain time in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Schmidt, president of Schmidt Homes, said the outbreak has already “immensely” impacted construction, postponing construction of a couple of large homes. In addition, the development of 23 residential lots in the last phase of The Hills of Spring Creek development, in southeast Northfield, off of Jefferson Parkway with Erie Drive connecting to the north, has been delayed.

“It’s a huge concern,” he said.

Part of the problem for Schmidt is he is unsure how long the COVID-19 will impact business. The longer it lasts, the longer he expects it will take the construction industry to fully recover.

Prior to the outbreak, Schmidt was expecting a banner construction year. He was looking for employees and carpenters, but the pandemic has caused him to halt planning.

“I’m not concerned,” Schmidt said of the ability of his business to make it through the pandemic. “We’re in a good position.”

Despite the problems residential construction faces, Schmidt expects commercial building will continue unless the pandemic worsens to the extent that all aspects of the country have to be closed.

‘I’m not too worried about it’

Faribault-based Valentyn Builders owner Andy Valentyn said he’s had a couple customers cancel jobs, but described the impact so far as “just minor.” His business does roofing and siding additions and other design work.

“I’m not too worried about it,” he said of the pandemic’s current impact on the construction industry.

Valentyn said after the Great Recession, he understood that a future construction downtown was likely, although he hadn’t anticipated it would come in this form. The six months prior to the pandemic had been “insanely busy,” he said, and he had figured that uptick would last through the year.

Valentyn said he would be concerned if the pandemic lasts a full year because he anticipates the downturn would have a trickle effect, with people losing jobs and retirees seeing diminishing money possibly being unable to undertake construction projects.

Northfield Construction Co. Senior Project Manager Craig Vold also said the outbreak has delayed/postponed residential construction projects and slowed commercial work. Other projects are underway.

With residential work, some customers have opted not to have construction workers in their homes, following the guidance of health professionals.

“Once we get through this I think things will be back to normal,” Vold said. He is aware that most of the economy is in a holding pattern waiting to see how the pandemic progresses. Despite the slowdown, Vold said scheduled projects are in place because of the growth of the economy, and he doesn’t see that expansion going away in the long term.

Faribault Community and Economic Development Director Deanna Kuennen said Faribault is seeing construction continue through the pandemic. She added the Hillside Apartments project is moving forward, and other apartment projects are at different stages of the approval process in preparation for construction later this year.

“In addition, just last week the City Council and County Board held a joint public hearing to support a consolidation/expansion project for an existing company,” Kuennen said. “This project involves the construction of a 20,000 square foot addition on an existing industrial building which is planned to be complete by the end of the year.”

The Building Division continues to receive building permit applications for commercial/industrial projects. Kuennen noted, however, that permit applications for smaller scale residential projects (remodels, decks, other work) have slowed.

“The city of Faribault is doing our part to support economic activity,” she said. “Municipal inspections are considered essential services – and we continue to perform these services on commercial projects following safe practices.”

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115. © Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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