Public works, homebuilding counter metals downturn |

Public works, homebuilding counter metals downturn

Rob Sabo

The downturn in precious-metals prices relieved some of the pressure to find housing and labor for Elko County employers, but even with a slowdown in the mining sector it still was a year of explosive growth for Elko.

The decline in the price of gold led to the first layoffs in years for Barrick Gold of North America and Newmont Mining Corp. Barrick reorganized this year and eliminated 100 positions in the state, including some regional management layers as it focused on developing closer ties to its corporate offices in Toronto, says Lou Schack, director of communications. The state’s largest gold miner still has more than 4,000 employees in the state.

Despite the layoffs, Elko continues to grow at a prodigious clip. In the three years from 2010 to 2013, Elko’s population swelled just over 11 percent and stands at slightly under 21,000 people, says City Manager Curtis Calder.

Finding homes for those new residents has been among the hurdles facing Elko employers, but several housing projects in the works the past few years flourished in 2013.

In 2012 there were 135 certificates of occupancy issued for new residential properties in Elko. The majority of those permits were for the Rabbit Brush Run Apartments that were completed in 2012. In 2013, Calder says, there were 79 certificates of occupancy issued mostly for new single-family residences at Brookwood Estates, Copper Trails, Autumn Colors and The Point at Ruby Hill subdivisions. Bailey Homes has seen strong interest in its townhome units at Autumn Colors on Mountain Highway and will develop more units in 2014.

Another subdivision, Eight Mile Estates, is expected to break ground in the new year. The property adjacent to Peace Park in the northwest part of town consists of 24 residential lots to be developed by Scott MacRitchie, owner of Jordanelle Third Mortgage. And the $8 million, 108-unit Copperwood Apartments on Fifth Street are slated for occupancy in 2014.

“We definitely have seen an ease up on (housing) pressures,” Calder says.

Several large public works projects are expected to keep construction crews busy throughout the year. The largest project in Elko County is the $31 million Carlin tunnels rehabilitation project under way by Q&D Construction. The westbound tunnel is slated to be closed this summer as Q&D begins work to replace the roadbed with concrete and install upgraded lighting and cameras in the tunnel. Elko’s largest project is the water reclamation facility upgrade at the sewer treatment plant. The $7 million project is expected to be completed in early 2014.

“We have seen lot of people coming and going in regards to that project,” Calder says.

Another big public works projects is the runway and apron rehabilitation work at Elko Regional Airport. Road and Highway Builders was awarded the $1.8 million apron project, while Granite Construction won a $1.6 million contract for the second phase of runway rehab job. Calder says the Elko City Council will determine a final location for a new police station in early 2014 and the city hopes to break ground on the $6 million project next year.

Several commercial buildings in the downtown redevelopment area finishing up construction and are expected to be occupied after the first of year. Bailey Home’s commercial division renovated Eden’s Landing, a 15,000-square-foot building on Silver Street, and Steve Romero built two new buildings at Vaughn Industrial Park on Railroad Avenue. It’s also going to be another year of heavy road construction within city limits. Crews completed sidewalk, curb and gutter installation on Idaho Street in anticipation of NDOT’s scheduled work to rehabilitate portions of Mountain City Highway, West Idaho Street, Fifth Street and portions of Lamoille Highway.