St. Michael-Albertville’s neighbor to the north (and east) has seen a big population expansion over the past few years, due in large part to new residential developments in the city.
Lori Johnson, Otsego’s city administrator, said the population expanded by nearly 2,500 people since the 2010 census. The latest census recorded 13,571 Otsego residents, and the latest estimates put the city’s estimated population at 16,000.
Johnson said most of Otsego’s growth could be traced to the city’s numerous new residential developments that have sprung up post-recession, though infilling of existing neighborhoods have also contributed. Johnson said one development alone is platted for 354-lot development on the city’s east side, and that about 500 lots have either been preliminary or final platted in the past two years. Otsego had 207 housing units constructed in 2015 and 52 for 2016 so far.
In comparison, Albertville has grown by about 220 people since 2010, with the 2010 population coming in at 7,044 compared with the latest estimate of 7,265. However, Albertville has a small geographical area of just over 4 square miles, compared with 36 square miles for St. Michael and 30 square miles for Otsego. City administrator Adam Nafstad said the town has seen two to three dozen residential building permits per year the past few years, but said the city is running out of build able residential land.
“In 10-15 years I expect Albertville’s residential areas to be filled up,” Nafstad said.
St. Michael has grown by about 700 people since the 2010 census, but St. Michael has some new housing developments coming down the pipeline that St. Michael’s community development director, Marc Weigle, said will bring a bump in the city’s residential building permit numbers, which he said have been hovering around 30-40 per year for the past several years.
“The new projects will be doing grading, utilities and building streets this year,” Weigle said. “We might see some models going up in the fall but probably not a lot of permits. We expect 2017 to be the year we start seeing a bump in residential building permits.”
When it comes to Otsego’s growth, Johnson said commercial growth has kept pace with residential, with several new businesses recently building facilities in Otsego. In the past two years, she said 935,000 square feet of warehouse space was constructed for three businesses: Ruan, Room & Board, and Blu Dot. An additional 270,000 square foot building is currently under construction that will be owned by Wagner SprayTech. Other recent construction includes a large professional building and an expansion to Kaleidoscope Charter School, and four more projects are either probable or set to go for later this year.
So, what’s the secret to Otsego’s success? Johnson said she thinks it’s a combination of things.
“Otsego is in a prime location for both business and residents,” she said. “The city has easy access to major transportation routes … and the development process is streamlined, which is critical for businesses who are under tight timelines.”