Whitefish records spike in building permit numbers

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Homes under construction in Whitefish. (Pilot file photo)

Whitefish during 2019 saw an estimated $45.5 million in residential and commercial construction with total building permits recorded by the city the highest of the decade.

The year saw a total of 246 new dwelling units permitted contributing more than $40 million in community investment, according the City of Whitefish’s Planning and Building Department’s annual report.

A total of eight new commercial buildings were permitted, that combined with commercial additions and remodels totaled an estimated $5.5 million in related project costs.

In 2018, the total valuation for all building permits issued was estimated at more than $53 million.

Total building permits in 2019 for both residential and commercial construction were the highest of the decade at 961, which is almost 200 more than the previous high in 2018 at 762 total permits. This includes new construction and remodels.

Planning and Building Director Dave Taylor said the last 10 years have showed a continual upward trend in growth in Whitefish as the city has inched back to pre-recession numbers.

“Whitefish is a special place, and people are visiting and moving here in droves,” he wrote in the annual report. “They are also building here.”

Total new residential construction at 246 units comes close to the highest year for the city in 2005 of 292 permits. The highest number last year for residential came with 95 single-family building permits. The increase in permits, however, was across the board in single-family, townhouse/duplexes and multi-family housing.

On the commercial side, the number of commercial permits has been holding nearly steady in 2017, 2018 and 2019. New commercial construction was up this year with eight new permits, over five the previous two years. However, valuation of the projects was less in 2019, according to the planning report.

Land use permitting, including subdivisions, conditional use permits and other types of planning applications, had another strong year. Permits totaled 214, which is second highest in the decade to 2018. The total in 2018 jumped to 229, but that was skewed by a large volume of short-term rental permits being process after a change in the city’s regulations.

Eleven new subdivisions were preliminary approved with 52 new lots in 2019. This is considerably less than 278 lots that were preliminarily approved in 2018.

A total of 15 subdivisions received final plat, resulting in 233 new lots — the most in the decade.

Last year, the biggest jump was in architectural review with 63 applications. This is nearly double the previous high for the decade.

Review of architectural design is required for commercial buildings, as well as, duplex/towhouses and multi-family residential projects.

In 2019, the city annexed just under 25 acres into the city. Over the past decade, Whitefish has expanded it boundaries by about 334 acres.

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