During his seven-year career with the City of Soldotna, building official Ralph Linn hasn’t seen anything similar. Kyle Kornelis, the city’s engineer, has put in a lot of overtime hours this year.
Both area dealing with the $60 million in construction that has funneled through their offices this year, up from about $9 million a year for the past two years.
Kornelis called it a “banner year” for construction during a presentation to the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday.
“It’s definitely been a handful for us and I think we’ve done a great job of being able to handle the contracts in-house,” Kornelis said during his presentation.
“A lot of these incorporate just construction and permit costs only ... in reality we’re looking at probably in excess of $70 million in commercial construction projects in the City of Soldotna. So that’s pretty phenomenal.”
By contrast the city has seen relatively few developments in its residential construction sector with five new houses being built this year.
Linn said it is typical for commercial and residential construction to go in cycles, however inspections on years when commercial construction is in a boom cycle have a bigger effect on his schedule.
“With commercial you do many, many inspections whereas with a house you might just need the one (visit),” he said.
Some of the projects, such as the city’s $7 million library expansion, took a long time to plan and get funded and came as no surprise during this building season. Others came upon the city with less than a year’s notice, Linn said.
“We had a very busy time because a lot of plans came in at the same time and they did kind of stack up earlier in the spring,” Linn said.
During his presentation, Kornelis mentioned several large projects including the expansion on the $20 million dollar Kenai Peninsula College Kenai River Campus projects including a career and tech center, student housing, an education center on East Redoubt, the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s oncology center at Central Peninsula Hospital and an assisted living facility.
“I think the biggest thing to understand is that the community is getting a lot of nice things,” Linn said. “All of this translates into good benefits for lots and lots of people.”
Rashah McChesney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.