City of Tamarack

Section Table of Contents:

Page

Demographic Data Overview

T-2

Population Estimates and Trends

T-4

Population Projections

T-5

Population by Age

T-6

Population by Age - Comparison with Minnesota

T-7

Households Estimates and Trends

T-8

Average Household Size

T-9

Household Projections

T-10

Households by Age of Householder

T-11

Household Characteristics

T-12

Households by Tenure

T-13

Income Data

T-14

Existing Housing Inventory

T-15

Permanent and Seasonal Housing

T-16

Home Values

T-17

Home Sales

T-18

Home Sales - Historical Data

T-19

Housing Condition

T-20

Land and Infrastructure Availability

T-21

Rental Housing

T-22

Findings and Recommendations

T-23


 City of Tamarack

Demographic Data Overview

Sources of Data

The following pages contain demographic data obtained from a variety of local, State and national sources. During the course of this Study, Census data was being released from the 2000 Census. Whenever data from the Census was available, it has been used in this Study. However, some characteristics, such as income related information, had not been released when this Study was prepared, so estimates from other sources have been used.

Primary data sources, in addition to the 2000 Census, include prior year estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Minnesota State Demographer’s Office, Claritas, Inc., an Arlington, VA-based data reporting service, and Woods & Poole Economics, Inc., a Washington, DC-based economic forecasting company.

The data that we have obtained from Claritas, Inc. is for the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area, as defined below. Because of the relatively small size of Tamarack, estimates and projections are very difficult to make with a reasonable degree of accuracy. Estimates and projections are more reliable when made for a larger area. For this reason, we have only used the Claritas information for the Market Area and the County. Woods & Poole only issues their estimates and projections at the County-wide level.


Market Area Definition

We have provided demographic data on population, households, income and other characteristics for the City of Tamarack, and for a primary market area that surrounds the City. The primary market area is referred to in the Study as the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area. This market area includes the City of Tamarack and the City of McGregor, the Townships of Balsam, Beaver, Clark, Haugen, Jevne, Libby, McGregor, Rice River, Salo, Shamrock, Spalding and Turner; and the Unorganized area of Davidson.

A map showing the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area is provided on the following page.

Although the geographic boundaries of this Market Area represent the Aitkin County jurisdictions immediately surrounding the City, housing in Tamarack has the potential to draw from a larger area. The inclusion of a McGregor-Tamarack Market Area definition is intended to represent a primary area that is oriented to the City. The inclusion of demographic data for this area allows for some degree of comparison between the City and the surrounding jurisdictions. For most demographic characteristics, we have also included data for Aitkin County as a whole, to again provide a perspective on broader market conditions in the larger region.

McGregor-Tamarack

  Market Area

Population Estimates and Trends

Table 1 Population Trends - 1980-2000

 

1980 Population

1990 Population

% Change 1980-1990

2000 Population

% Change 1990-2000

Tamarack

83

53

-36.1%

59

11.3%

McGregor-Tamarack Market Area

2,860

2,692

-5.9%

3,255

20.9%

Aitkin County

13,404

12,425

-7.3%

15,301

23.1%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

►          After experiencing a population loss of more than 36% in the 1980s, Tamarack had a slight population increase over the last 10 years. According to the Census, Tamarack added 6 people, for a population increase of 11.3% between 1990 and 2000. However, adjusting for the large population losses of the 1980s, the City’s population is still nearly29% lower than it was in 1980.

►          The jurisdictions forming the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area showed similar growth patterns to the City of Tamarack. After losing nearly 6% of its population in the 1980s, the Market Area experienced a population increase of nearly 21% from 1990 to 2000. The Market Area population level in 2000 is approximately 14% above the population level in 1980.

►          Aitkin County has grown at an even faster rate over the last 10 years. After a population loss of more than 7% in the 1980s, the County added population at a rate greater than 23% from 1990 to 2000.

►          Although the 2000 Census data released to date does not show the components of population gains and losses, in their 1999 County estimates, the Census Bureau identified the sources of population gains and losses for counties. In Aitkin County, they estimated population decreases for deaths exceeding births, but a significant population gain due to domestic in-migration. While the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area represents only a portion of the entire County, it is probable that the causes of population change are similar to County-wide patterns, with domestic in-migration as the largest component of the population gain that has occurred since 1990.

►          Although we consider the 2000 Census data to be the most reliable indicator of population levels, we have also obtained current-year population estimates from Claritas, Inc., a private data reporting service. The Claritas estimates for 2001 show an estimated population of 15,518 people in Aitkin County, and 3,360 for the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area. These estimates are relatively consistent with the 2000 Census data.

►          We have also obtained a 2001 population estimate from Woods & Poole Economics, a private economic forecasting service. They estimate the Aitkin County population to be 14,550 people in 2001, well below the 2000 Census figures.


Population Projections

The following table presents possible population level projections using four different sources. The 10 year growth trend is based on the rate of change between 1990 and 2000, using the 1990 Census and the 2000 Census, and projects this rate of growth forward between 2000 and 2006. The 20 year growth trend uses the same methodology, but calculates an annual growth rate from 1980 to 2000. The third and fourth projections are provided by Claritas, Inc., and Woods & Poole Economics, private companies that provide demographic data. Woods & Poole only issues data and projections at the County level.


Table 2 Population Projections Through 2006

 

2000 Population

Census

2006 Projection from 10 year growth trends

2006 Projection from 20 year growth trends

2006 Claritas Projection

2006 Woods & Poole Projection

Tamarack

59

63

54

N/A

N/A

 Market Area

3,255

3,663

3,390

3,592

N/A

Aitkin County

15,301

17,426

15,951

16,611

15,190

Source: U.S. Census Bureau; Claritas, Inc.; Woods & Poole Economics, Inc.; Community Partners Research, Inc.

►          Population projections calculated from recent trends for the City of Tamarack differ depending on the inclusion of 1980s population data, when the City lost approximately 36% of its total population. In the 1990s, population trends reversed, and the City added a small number of people. Projections based on the last 10 years may be overly optimistic, since part of the population gain of the 1990s was due to housing unit availability from the out-migration in the 1980s. However, the projection based on 20 year patterns may be too pessimistic. In our opinion, it is reasonable to assume that population growth over the 6 year period between 2000 and 2006 will be within the range between -5 and +4 people.

►          Projections for the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area and the County of Aitkin also vary depending on a 10 year versus 20 year calculation method. These methods anticipate that the Market Area will add between 135 and 408 people from 2000 to 2006. In this same projection period, Aitkin County is expected to add between 651 and 2,125 people.

►          Claritas projects that the Market Area will add 232 people and that the County will add 1,093 people between 2001 and 2006. These projections are well within the ranges provided above.

►          Woods & Poole Economics projects that Aitkin County will add 640 people from 2001 to 2006. Again, they start with a lower base year estimate for 2001. While Woods & Poole’s estimates and projections are too low, they do anticipate continued County-wide growth into the foreseeable future.


Population By Age

The following table compares the City, Market Area and County populations by age in 1990 and 2000, along with the percentage changes. While this table examines the changes over the last 10 years, the table on the following page compares the City, Market Area and County with the State of Minnesota for the distribution of population by age.


Table 3 Persons by Age - 1990 - 2000


Age

City of Tamarack

Market Area

Aitkin County

1990

2000

% Change

1990

2000

% Change

1990

2000

% Change

 0-19

8

13

62.5%

713

763

7.0%

3,197

3,544

10.9%

20-24

3

1

-66.7%

77

107

39.0%

359

486

35.4%

25-44

13

13

0%

653

671

2.8%

2,989

3,302

10.5%

45-64

11

20

81.8%

679

962

41.7%

2,952

4,452

50.8%

65-74

13

7

-46.2%

399

459

15.0%

1,730

1,993

15.2%

75-84

3

5

66.7%

147

255

73.5%

898

1,130

25.8%

 85+

2

0

-100%

24

38

58.3%

300

394

31.3%

Total

53

59

11.3%

2,692

3,255

20.9%

12,425

15,301

23.1%

Source: U.S. Census; Community Partners Research, Inc.

►          Over the last decade, the City has experienced fluctuations in most of the age ranges. Because of the small size of the City, the percentage changes are exaggerated. It would appear that the City gained some families in the last decade, with an increase in the number of children and in the number of adults in the child-rearing age ranges between 45 and 64 years old.

►          In the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area, every age group reported an increase in population between 1990 and 2000. There was a large percentage and numeric increase in the population between 45 and 64 years old. Much of the “baby boom generation” was in this age cohort in 2000. People in these age ranges also represented the largest increase for Aitkin County as a whole.

►          Despite total population growth of nearly 21% in the Market Area, the percentage of children increased by only 7% between 1990 and 2000.

►          The older senior population, age 85 and older, increased by more than 58% in the Market Area, but this age cohort is a very small percentage of the total Market Area population.


Population By Age - Comparison to Minnesota

The following table compares the City, Market Area and County populations by age in 2000 to State-wide age distribution patterns.


Table 4 Persons by Age - 1990 - 2000


Age

McGregor

Market Area

Aitkin County

Minnesota

2000

Percent

2000

Percent

2000

Percent

2000 Percent

 0-19

13

22.0%

763

23.4%

3,544

23.2%

29.1%

20-24

1

1.7%

107

3.3%

486

3.2%

6.6%

25-44

13

22.0%

671

20.6%

3,302

21.6%

30.5%

45-64

20

33.9%

962

29.6%

4,452

29.1%

21.7%

65-74

7

11.9%

459

14.1%

1,993

13.0%

6.0%

75-84

5

8.5%

255

7.8%

1,130

7.4%

4.3%

 85+

0

0%

38

1.2%

394

2.6%

1.7%

Total

59

100%

3,255

100%

15,301

100%

100%

Source: U.S. Census; Community Partners Research, Inc.

►          Despite an increase in the number of children over the last decade, the percentage of children in the City’s population is below the County-wide level, and well below the State-wide percentage for children in the population.

►          The City’s percentage of population in the prime child-rearing age ranges between 25 and 44 years old is well below the State-wide average.

►          The City has above average percentages for senior citizen age groups, age 65 to 84 years old. These percentages are approximately 2 time above the State-wide percentage. However, there are no older seniors, age 85 and older in the population.

►          While the Market Area has an above-average population of senior citizens in the age ranges between 65 and 84 years old, there is a below average percentage of senior citizens age 85 and older, when compared to the State of Minnesota. This implies that older seniors tend to leave the area as they age, probably looking for additional medical and service options in larger neighboring communities.

►          According to the 2000 Census, the median age in the City of Tamarack was 48.8 years old and in the County it was 46.5 years old. For the entire State of Minnesota the median age was 35.4 years old.


Household Estimates and Trends


Table 5 Household Trends - 1980-2000

 

1980 Households

1990 Households

% Change 1980-1990

2000 Households

% Change 1990-2000

Tamarack

35

29

-17.1%

30

3.4%

McGregor-Tamarack Market Area

1,060

1,119

5.6%

1,454

29.9%

Aitkin County

5,005

5,126

2.4%

6,644

29.6%

Source: U.S. Census Bureau; Community Partners Research, Inc.

►          After a decade of household losses in the 1980s, the City of Tamarack experienced a household growth rate of more than 3% from 1990 to 2000. The household level reported in the 2000 Census was still 5 households lower than in 1980.

►          Household growth in the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area was very strong over the last decade. From 1990 to 2000, the Market Area added 335 new households, or a household increase of nearly 30%. The Market Area also had some increase in households in the 1980s, despite a decrease in population. Over 56% of the household growth in the Market Area occurred in Shamrock Township, which includes much of the prime lake shore on Big Sandy Lake.

►          Aitkin County’s household growth approached 30% in the 1990s. While all regions of the County added households, the majority of the household growth occurred in the jurisdictions that form the Aitkin Market Area.

►          Although the 2000 Census data released to date does not show the components of household gains and losses, in their 1999 County estimates, the Census Bureau identified the sources of population gains and losses for counties. In Aitkin County, they estimated population decreases for deaths exceeding births, but a significant population gain due to domestic in-migration. While the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area represents only a portion of the entire County, it is probable that the causes of household change are similar to County-wide patterns, with domestic in-migration as the largest component of growth.

►          Increasingly, seasonal use structures in northern Minnesota are being converted to year-round residences, as people move into the area to retire, or tele-commute to their employment. While a number of new houses may have been built in the Market Area to house new residents, it is also possible that many new households have occupied an existing unit that was previously a seasonal-use structure.

►          Claritas, Inc., estimates that there are 1,467 households in the Market Area in 2001, reasonably consistent with 2000 Census data.

Average Household Size

The following table provides U.S. Census Bureau information on average household size. We have also provided projections by Claritas, Inc., which were prepared prior to the release of any 2000 Census data.


Table 6 Average Number of Persons Per Household 1980-2006

 

1980 Census

1990 Census

2000 Census

2006 Projected Claritas

Tamarack

2.37

1.83

1.97

N/A

McGregor-Tamarack Market Area

2.70

2.41

2.24

2.25

Aitkin County

2.65

2.39

2.28

2.21

Source: U.S. Census; Claritas, Inc.

►          In most areas in Minnesota and across the nation, average household size has been decreasing in recent decades. This has been due to household composition changes, such as more single parent families, more senior households due to longer life spans, etc. This trend of smaller household sizes has been occurring in Tamarack as the average household size has decreased from 2.37 persons per household in 1980 to 1.97 persons in 2000. For the State of Minnesota, the average household size was 2.52 people in 2000.

►          Tamarack’s average household size was even smaller in 1990 than it is in 2000, as the City has gained some families with children over the last decade. Despite the increase, Tamarack is one of only 5 jurisdictions in Aitkin County with an average household size under 2 persons per household.

►          Average household sizes for the Market Area and for the County as a whole have continued to decrease in the 1980s and 1990s. Although the average sizes are higher than for the City of Tamarack, they are still well below the State-wide average.

►          The 2006 projection from Claritas shows that the average household size is expected to decrease over the next five years for the Market Area and the County. Claritas starts with a higher current-year estimate for 2001, and expects the average size to decrease slightly through 2006.

►          Woods & Poole projects that the Aitkin County average household size will decline from 2.35 persons per household in 2001 to 2.31 persons in 2006.


Household Projections

The following table presents possible household level projections using four different sources. The 10 year growth trend is based on the rate of change between 1990 and 2000, using the 1990 Census and the 2000 Census, and projects this rate of growth forward to 2006. The 20 year growth trend uses the same methodology, but calculates an annual growth rate from 1980 to 2000. The third and fourth projections are provided by Claritas, Inc., and Woods & Poole Economics, private companies that provide demographic data. Woods & Poole only issues data and projections at the County level.


Table 7 Household Projections Through 2006

 

2000 Household Estimate

2006 Projection from 10 year growth trends

2006 Projection from 20 year growth trends

2006 Claritas, Inc. Projection

2006 Woods & Poole Projection

 Tamarack

30

31

29

N/A

N/A

McGregor-Tamarack Market Area

1,454

1,715

1,616

1,599

N/A

Aitkin County

6,644

7,825

7,297

7,422

6,480

Source: Community Partners Research, Inc.; Claritas, Inc.

►          Our projections indicate that the City of Tamarack is expected to add between -1 and +1 households between 2000 and 2006.

►          Projections for the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area and the County of Aitkin vary depending on a 10 year versus 20 year calculation method. These two methods anticipate that the Market Area will add between 162 and 261 households from 2000 to 2006. In this same projection period, Aitkin County is expected to add between 653 and 1,181 households.

►          The Claritas projection for the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area indicates an increase of 132 households between 2001 and 2006, below the range provided above. Claritas starts with a higher base year (2001) estimate than the 2000 Census. Claritas projects that the County will add 622 households between 2001 and 2006. This projection is near the lower end of the range provided above.

►          Woods & Poole Economics projects that Aitkin County will add 430 households from 2000 to 2006. Woods & Poole’s base year estimate for 2000 is well below the County household count reported by the Census. While their estimates and projections are too low, they do anticipate continued County-wide growth into the foreseeable future.


Households By Age of Householder

The following table compares Market Area households by age of householder in 1990 and 2000, along with the numeric and percentage changes.


Table 8 Market Area Households by Age - 1990 - 2000

Age of Householder

McGregor-Tamarack Market Area

1990

2000

Numeric Change

Percentage Change

15-24

26

29

3

11.5%

25-34

161

113

-48

-29.8%

35-44

172

245

73

42.4%

45-54

152

250

98

64.5%

55-64

232

302

70

30.2%

65-74

252

293

41

16.3%

75-84

108

193

85

78.7%

 85+

16

29

13

81.3%

Total

1,119

1,454

335

29.9%

Source: U.S. Census; Community Partners Research, Inc.

►          Census data show that the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area has added households in most age ranges since 1990. The only age group showing a net loss of households was the 25 to 34 year old range which lost 48 households between 1990 and 2000.

►          The largest numeric gains occurred in the 45 to 54 year old age group which added 98 households, and the 75 to 84 year old age range which added 85 households.

►          All of the senior citizen age groups increased in size, with the number of households in the 65 and older ranges adding 139 additional households between 1990 and 2000.


Household Characteristics

The following table presents data on household characteristics from the 2000 Census. Data has been presented as percentages of the total households to allow for comparative analysis between the City, the Market Areas and State.


Table 9 Households by Type - 2000

 

Married Couple Family

Male Householder

No Wife Present

Female Householder No Husband Present

Non-Family Household

With Related Children

W/O Related Children

With Related Children

W/O Related Children

With Related Children

W/O Related Children

1 Person Household

Non-Family Household

Tamarack

13.3%

30.0%

0%

3.3%

10.0%

3.3%

40.0%

0%

Market Area

15.3%

39.9%

2.2%

1.1%

4.3%

3.0%

30.3%

4.1%

Aitkin Co.

16.9%

40.5%

2.1%

1.3%

3.6%

2.6%

28.7%

4.2%

Minnesota

25.2%

28.5%

2.0%

1.6%

5.9%

3.0%

26.9%

6.9%

Source: 2000 Census; Community Partners Research, Inc.

►          According to the Census, Tamarack’s percentage of married couples with children was well below average when compared to the State of Minnesota. The City’s percentage of 1 person households was well above the comparable averages. A large number of 1 person households is common in communities with a large, older senior population.

►          While the Market Area and the County had a below average percentage of married couples with children when compared to the State-wide average, there was an above average percentage of married couples without children. This would be consistent with some of the surrounding township and unorganized area’s popularity as a retirement location.

►          While Tamarack did have a below average percentage of married couples with children, the City did have an above average percentage of single parent families with children.


Households by Tenure

Table 10 Households by Tenure - 2000

 

Occupied Units

Owner-Occupied Units

% Owner Units

Renter-Occupied Units

% Rented Units

Tamarack

30

26

86.7%

4

12.3%

McGregor-Tamarack Market Area


1,454


1,266


87.1%


188


12.9%

Aitkin County

6,644

5,676

85.4%

968

14.6%

Minnesota

1,895,127

1,412,865

74.6%

482,262

25.4%

Source: U.S. Census 

►          According to the 2000 Census, Tamarack has a high percentage of owner-occupied housing when compared to the State of Minnesota. The City’s percentage of rental housing is below the County-wide percentage.

►          Like the City of Tamarack, the surrounding townships have primarily owner-occupied housing. Excluding rental units in McGregor, the surrounding jurisdictions in the Market Area have over 91% of their housing owner-occupied.

Income Data

Income data from the 2000 Census is not scheduled for release until 2002. Income data has been presented from a 2001 estimate of income calculated by Claritas, Inc., a national data reporting company. Income includes total money received in the stated calendar year by all household members 15 years old and over. Because of the relatively small size of Tamarack, which creates difficulties in accurately estimating income levels, data is only provided for the larger Market Area and the County. The first table provides a median income estimate for all households, while the second table provides a median income estimate for all families that have more than one related individual living in the same household.


Table 11 Estimated Household Income - 1989 to 2001

 

Household Income

1989 Median

2001 Median

% Change

McGregor-Tamarack Market Area

$15,974

$24,189

51.4%

Aitkin County

$17,487

$26,494

51.5%

Source: Claritas, Inc.


Table 12 Estimated Family Income - 1989 to 2001

 

Family Income

1989 Median

2001 Median

% Change

McGregor-Tamarack Market Area

$18,679

$28,382

51.9%

Aitkin County

$21,836

$33,134

51.7%

Source: Claritas, Inc.

 ►          Using the commonly accepted standard that 30% of gross income can be applied to housing expenses without experiencing a cost burden, a median income household in the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area could afford approximately $605 per month for housing and a median income family could afford $710 per month. This amount may reduced by other consumer debt.

 ►          Using the mortgage affordability calculator of the National Association of Realtors, a household earning the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area’s median household income of $25,026 can afford to purchase a house at approximately $60,000. This assumes relatively low fixed debt, $3,000 available for a down payment, and a 30 year fixed rate mortgage at 7.25%. A median income family, with identical terms but having higher fixed debt and $5,000 for a down payment can afford a $69,230 house. Closing costs have not been included in either calculation.

 ►          Household income estimates for 2001 indicate that approximately 17.2% of Tamarack Market Area households have incomes above $50,000. Households in this income range will generally have incomes sufficient for the costs associated with new home construction, or houses above $125,000.


Existing Housing Inventory

Table 13 Occupied Housing Units by Year Built

 

1939 and Earlier

1940-1959

1960-1979

1980-1989

1990-2001*

Owned

Rented

Owned

Rented

Owned

Rented

Owned

Rented

Owned

Rented

Tamarack

10

0

3

0

15

0

2

0

1

0

Source: 1990 Census; Building Permits

* The tenure and occupancy status for units constructed since 1990 is not exactly known. This table assumes tenure based on the best available information on structure type, and from the City’s building permit records.

 ►          The owner-occupied housing stock in Tamarack is relatively old. The 1990 Census reported that 33.3% of the owner-occupied housing units at that time were pre-1940 construction. The State-wide average for pre-1940 housing was 25% according to the 1990 Census. Tamarack had 7 occupied mobile homes in 1990, which probably accounts for some of the 1970s date of construction for owner-occupied housing units.

Table 14 Tamarack Housing Units By Number of Units and Tenure

 

Total Units - 1990

Owner Occupied 1990

Renter Occupied 1990

Unit changes 1990-2001

Total

Census+new units

1 Unit Detached

34

20

1

0

34

1 Unit Attached

0

0

0

0

0

2 Units

0

0

0

0

0

3-4 Units

0

0

0

0

0

5+ Units

0

0

0

0

0

Mobile Home

13

7

0

-4

9

Total

47

27

1

-4

43

Source: 1990 Census; Building Permits

►          Tamarack has had only one new house constructed in the last decade. Based on a visual count, it appears that 4 mobile homes have been removed from the community.

 ►          According to the City, only one house has been demolished since 1990, but from a visual count of units, it appears that more houses may have removed in the 1990s.

 ►          The unit counts reported in the 1990 Census for single family, duplex and mobile home units are higher than those obtained from a visual unit inventory completed in 2001. It is possible that additional units have been lost since 1990. It is also possible that some units at the edges of the City limits were not included in the visual inventory completed for this Study.


Permanent and Seasonal Housing

Like many areas in northern Minnesota, the area surrounding Tamarack has a large number of seasonal use housing units. Increasingly, these seasonal use units are being converted to year-round housing units, to accommodate both retirees who are moving into the area, and also working age households who are looking to take advantage of the lakes, trees and other amenities of a wilderness housing location. The following table provides information on seasonal use housing units.

Table 15 Seasonal Use and Year-Round Occupied Housing Units - 2000

 


Total Units

Year-Round Occupancy Units

Seasonal Use Units

Units

Percent

Units

Percent

Tamarack

48

34

70.8%

14

29.2%

McGregor-Tamarack Market Area

3,859

1,782

46.2%

2,077

53.8%

Aitkin County

14,168

7,499

52.9%

6,669

47.1%

Source: 2000 Census

 ►          Although there were only 14 seasonal use housing units identified within the City of Tamarack, seasonal use units make up nearly 54% of the stock in the Market Area, representing 2,077 housing units. The largest number of seasonal use units were in Shamrock Township, which had 1,281 of the Market Area’s 2,077 seasonal use housing units. Shamrock Township accounted for more than 56% of all household growth that occurred in the Market Area between 1990 and 2000.

 ►          Information from utility providers in northern Minnesota indicates that in some areas, as many as 5% of the seasonal use units are converted to year-round use on an annual basis. This conversion to year-round use allows for significant, permanent household growth in the area without a commensurate level of new housing construction activity. The availability of these seasonal use units in the surrounding rural areas also helps to explain the significantly higher household growth rates that the Market Areas are experiencing when compared to the Cities in the area.


Census Housing Vacancy

The 2000 Census provided information on the occupancy/vacancy status at the time the Census was taken.

Table 16 Seasonal Use and Vacant Housing Units - 2000

 

Total Units

Total Vacant Units

Seasonal Use Vacant

Vacant For Rent

Vacant For Sale

Other Vacant

Tamarack

48

18

14

0

0

4

Market Area

3,859

2,405

2,077

8

14

268

Aitkin County

14,168

7,524

6,669

97

68

690

Source: 2000 Census

 ►          The Census reported that there were no vacant rental units and no vacant owner-occupied units in Tamarack at the time of the Census.

 ►          The Census lists a large number of “other vacant” units in the Market Area. The status of these units is not always defined. In some cases, these are units that are vacant temporarily due to turn-over, such as units that have been recently sold but the new owner has not yet moved in. It is possible that some of these units may also represent resort-type housing units. The largest number of “other vacant” units in Aitkin County are in Shamrock Township, with 207 such units. Shamrock Township includes much of the development on Big Sandy Lake.


Home Values

Table 17 Estimated Owner Occupied House Value - 2001

 

2001 Median Home Value Estimate

Tamarack

$22,103

Source: Community Partners Research, Inc.; Aitkin County Assessor

►          Data on median owner-occupied home values is from the Aitkin County Assessor’s Office. Data was reviewed on 30 homesteaded houses. This data may include two and three-unit structures where the owner occupies one of the units in the building.

 ►          The median value in the Assessor’s data is $21,050, which represents the estimated market value in January 2001. Estimated market values are supposed to be within 95% of actual market value, and generally lag slightly behind true sales values. To adjust this value, we have increased the median value by 5%, bringing the current estimated median home value to $22,103.

County estimated market value data has also been used to analyze the number of homesteaded houses in the City that fall into defined value ranges. The first value range identifies the number and percentage of houses compared to $69,230, the approximate purchase amount that is considered affordable at the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area median family income level of $28,382, with a 5% down payment. The second value range compares house values to$77,540, based on the purchase price limit for first-time home buyer programs available through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency (MHFA).

Table 18 Owner-Occupied Houses By Specified Value Range - 2001

Value Range

Number of Homesteaded Houses

Percent of Homesteaded Houses

$0 - $69,230

Affordable at median household income

29

96.7%

$69,231+

Above affordable level at median income

1

3.3%

$0 - $77,540

Eligible for first-time buyer

30

100%

$77,540+

Above limits for first-time buyer

0

0%

Source: Aitkin County Assessor; Community Partners Research, Inc.

 ►          Based on home value estimates generated from County estimated market values, all of the City’s existing single family housing stock is in a price range that is eligible for first-time home buyer mortgage programs, and nearly 97% of the houses are affordable to households at the Tamarack median family income level of $28,382.


Home Sales

The previous page examined all owner-occupied houses in the City as an indicator of ownership affordability. This section examines those houses that have been sold within a recent time period. It is important to note that the number of houses that have sold is relatively small, and may not be an accurate indicator of overall home values. However, this sample does provide some insight into those units that are turning-over in the City.


Table 19 Median Value of Recent Residential Sales - October 1999

 

Number of Good Sales

Median Sale Price

Tamarack

1

$28,500

Source: Community Partners Research, Inc.; Aitkin County Assessor

 ►          Only one improved residential sale of an owner-occupied house in Tamarack has occurred in recent years that is considered to be “arms length” transaction, according to the County Assessor. Sales that are not “arms length” include, but are not limited to, sales between relatives, forced sales and foreclosures, and estate transfers that are not available on the open market. Only the “arms length” transactions have been reviewed for this study.

 ►          The sale occurred in October 1999, and the sale price was $28,500.

Table 20 Residential Sales By Specified Value Range - October 1999

Value Range

Number of Residential Sales

Percent of Residential Sales

$0 - $69,230

Affordable at median household income

1

100%

$69,231+

Above affordable level at median income

0

0%

$0 - $77,540

Eligible for first-time buyer

1

100%

$77,540+

Above limits for first-time buyer

0

0%

Source: Aitkin County Assessor; Community Partners Research, Inc.

Note: This table reflects “qualified” sales as determined by the County Assessor.

 ►          Only one house has been sold in Tamarack in recent years. The sale price was $28,500.


County-wide Home Sales - Historical Data

The Minnesota Demographer’s Office has compiled County-level data on median home sales prices over the last 17 years to analyze price trends for single family houses. This data is only available for all of Aitkin County. The median sales price has been obtained from sales ratio reports submitted by the Aitkin County Assessor’s Office to the Minnesota Department of Revenue. It is important to note that houses sold in a given year may not be a statistically valid sample of all home values in the County. However, this annual sample does provide insight into home values over a number of years and information on those units that are turning-over in the County.

Table 21 Median Value of Residential Sales - 1984/85 to 1999/2000

 

Median Sale Price

Percent Change 1990-2000

Percent Change 1998/99-1999/2000

1984-1985

1989-1990

1995-1996

1998-1999

1999-2000

Aitkin County

$31,000

$32,250

$54,200

$70,000

$75,000

132.6%

7.1%

Minnesota

$64,000

$70,000

$87,500

$112,500

$124,500

77.9%

10.7%

Source: Minnesota State Demographer; Community Partners Research, Inc.

►          The median home sales price in Aitkin County has increased at a rapid rate over the last decade. From the 12 month period ending October 1, 1990 to the 12 month period ending October 1, 2000, the median sales price increased by nearly 133%. This percentage increase was well above the State-wide increase of approximately 80% during the same time period.

 ►          While the percentage increase is significant, it is explained in part by the relatively low median sales price in the County. The County’s median for the 1989-1990 sales period was $32,250. This was less than half of the State-wide median sales price in that year of $70,000.

 ►          For the 1989-1990 sales period, Aitkin County had the 31st lowest median sales value of 87 counties analyzed. For the 1999-2000 sales period, the County had the 44th lowest value of 87 counties reviewed.

 ►          The median income data for Aitkin County provided earlier in this Study estimate that the median household income level and the median family income level have increased by approximately 52% between 1989 and 2001. In this same time period the median home sales price has increased by nearly 133%.


Housing Condition

In May 2001, Community Partners Research, Inc. representatives conducted a visual ‘windshield’ survey of single family/duplex houses in Tamarack. Houses that appeared to contain 3 or more residential units and mobile homes were excluded from the survey. The visual survey looked at 26 single family/duplex structures.

The visual survey also identified and rated 9 mobile homes in the City. The ratings for mobile homes are provided separately in the following table.

Houses were categorized in one of four levels of physical condition, Sound, Minor Repair, Major Repair, and Dilapidated as defined below. The visual survey analyzed only the physical condition of the visible exterior of each structure. Exterior condition is assumed to be a reasonable indicator of the structure’s interior quality.

Dilapidated houses need major renovation to become decent, safe and sanitary housing. Some Dilapidated properties may be abandoned and may be candidates for demolition and clearance. Major Rehabilitation is defined as a house needing multiple major improvements such as roof, windows, sidings, structural/foundation, etc. Houses in this condition category may or may not be economically feasible to rehabilitate. Minor Repair houses are judged to be generally in good condition and require less extensive repair, such as one major improvement. Houses in this condition category will generally be good candidates for rehabilitation programs because they are in a salable price range and are economically feasible to repair. Sound houses are judged to be in good, ‘move-in’ condition. Sound houses may contain minor code violations and still be considered Sound.

Table 22 Windshield Survey Condition Estimate - 2001

 

Sound

Minor Repair

Major Repair

Dilapidated

Total

Single Family/Duplex

3/11.5%

9/34.6%

7/26.9%

7/26.9%

26

Mobile Homes

0/0%

4/44.4%

4/44.4%

1/11.1%

9

Tamarack Total

3/8.6%

13/37.1%

11/31.4%

8/22.9%

35

Source: Community Partners Research, Inc.

 ►          The visual condition survey identified nearly all of the houses in the City as needing repair. The survey did identify 7 single family/duplex structures and 4 mobile homes as needing major repair.

 ►          The analysis rated 7 single family/duplex homes and 1 mobile home as dilapidated. These structures may be beyond repair, and could be candidates for demolition and clearance.


Land and Infrastructure Availability

In order to accommodate future housing development activity, the City will need adequate land suitable for residential development, and will need municipal sewer and water capacity sufficient to support additional residential users. While this study did not obtain independent verification of land or services availability, it did attempt to collect general information on the City’s physical ability to accommodate future residential growth. This information was most often obtained from either City staff or elected officials.

Land Availability - Single Family Development

Tamarack has had very limited new housing construction over the last 11 years. No new residential subdivisions have been created for many years. According to City officials, Tamarack has a limited supply of developed land that is available for new home construction.

A visual inspection of the City identified some vacant, “in-fill” parcels around the City. However, these vacant lots were not identified as being for sale, and the availability of these lots for new housing construction is not known.

With very little prospect that much new home building will occur, it is doubtful that additional residential land will be needed. New construction can probably be accommodated on in-fill sites, or by the removal of dilapidated structures.

Municipal Services

The City has recently received grant and loan funds from the Small Cities Development Program and USDA Rural Development for a municipal sewer system. This project should add to the potential sites for in-fill housing development.


Rental Housing

At the time of the 2000 Census only 4 of the occupied housing units in Tamarack were renter occupied. Tamarack’s percentage of rental housing was well below the State-wide average of 25.4% rented housing. The 2000 Census reported no units that were available for rent but vacant.

Since 1990, there have been no new units constructed specifically for renter occupancy. However, the 2000 Census reported 3 more occupied rental housing units than existed at the time of the 1990 Census. The 1990 Census also listed one vacant rental unit. It would appear that two houses in the City converted from owner-occupancy to renter-occupancy between 1990 and 2000.

Rental Housing Survey

There are no multifamily rental buildings in Tamarack, and only 4 single family rental units exist. No rental survey was conducted in Tamarack.

Most rental housing for this area of the County is located in McGregor. The Rental Housing section of the McGregor Study identifies information on rental options in that City.


City of Tamarack

Findings and Recommendations


Key Statistics

The first number represents the City of Tamarack/the second number, when provided, is for the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area which includes the City of Tamarack and the City of McGregor, the Townships of Balsam, Beaver, Clark, Haugen, Jevne, Libby, McGregor, Rice River, Salo, Shamrock, Spalding and Turner; and the Unorganized area of Davidson.


2000 Population = 59/3,255

2000 Households = 30/1,454

Projected household changes from 2000 to 2006 = -1 to +1 households in Tamarack

Projected household changes from 2000 to 2006 = 162 to 261 households Market Area


2000 tenure rates = 86.7% owner, 12.3% renter

2001 Median owner-occupied house value = $22,103

Median value of recent sales = $28,500 (1 sale)


2001 Median Household Income = $24,189 Market Area

2001 Median Family Income = $28,382 Market Area

2000 Average number of persons per household = 1.97/2.24

Monthly rent payment ability (Market Area median income household) = $605

Affordable rent payment ability (50%of Market Area median income) = $302

Affordable ownership (Market Area median income household) = $60,000

Affordable Ownership (Market Area median income family) = $69,230


Growth Projections


After experiencing population and household losses during the 1980s, the City of Tamarack has added population and households since 1990. While the City has grown over the last 10 years, the 2000 Census reported that the City has five fewer household and 25 fewer people than it did 20 years ago.


Growth patterns in the Townships that form the Market Area have been a bit more stable. While the area lost some population in the 1980s, there was a slight increase in the number of households. In the 1990s, both population and households increased. While all of the individual jurisdictions forming the Market Area added households between 1990 and 2000, over 56% of all the Area’s household growth occurred in a single Township. Shamrock Township, which includes much of the southern lake shore of Big Sandy Lake, added 188 of the 335 new permanent households.


Much of the growth in the Townships around Tamarack can be attributed to the popularity of lake shore living. Shamrock Township had the largest numeric increase in year-round households of any individual jurisdiction in the County, according to the 2000 Census. The Market Area still contains more than 2,000 seasonal use residential units. This large inventory of seasonal use housing still offers significant potential for conversion or re-use as year-round housing, and the prospect that an increase in permanent residents can be expected for the foreseeable future.


Our traditional projection methods yield a wide variation in the growth potential for the City and the Market Area through 2006. The 1990s were extremely strong economic years for the nation, and part of the population rebound in Aitkin County and much of Greater Minnesota can be attributed to strong growth in employment, wages and wealth. A prolonged economic slow-down or recession could alter the growth patterns that became established in the area in the 1990s.


The near-term projections for household growth that we have used for this Study anticipate that growth will continue to occur although at a slower pace than experienced over the last decade. We believe that household growth in the City of Tamarack will be approximately -1 to +1 households between 2000 and 2006.


For the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area, we would expect between 162 to 261 permanent households to be added between 2000 and 2006, with the most realistic projection near the middle to slightly below the middle of this range. This equates to an annual average of between 30 and 35 new households per year. We would expect that some of this household growth will utilize existing, seasonal-use housing units, and this growth will not require a commensurate level of new unit construction.


We are projecting slower household growth in the near-future for three primary reasons. First, some of the household gains over the last decade were due to the availability of lower-cost housing units. After population and household losses in the 1980s, there were housing units available for sale or rent in the early part of the last decade. These units were available and affordable to new households that were looking to move into the Tamarack area. For example, the 2000 Census reported 8 fewer vacant units for sale or rent in Tamarack in 2000 than existed in the 1990 Census. Part of the City’s net gain of 20 new households is probably due in part to the availability of these vacant units. As the supply of vacant units has decreased, many households will find it more difficult to move into the area in an affordable housing unit.


Second, the availability of prime lakeshore sites continues to decline in Aitkin County. The availability of high-amenity sites in the townships surrounding Tamarack has been one of the primary factors generating strong household growth over the last decade. As the number of prime sites decreases, and the price of sites increases, there will be fewer opportunities in the immediate area to attract new residents.


The third reason for slightly reduced growth rates is the economy, both locally and regionally. The 1990s represented one of the strongest periods of economic growth in our nation’s history. As documented in the Employment and Local Economic Trends section of this Study, Aitkin County shared in this economic growth through job creation and gains in average wages. With a slowing economy in recent years, we would expect less growth in the near-term generated by employment opportunities in the immediate area.


With relatively strong household growth projected through 2006 for the area forming the McGregor-Tamarack Market Area, we would expect to see stable to increasing numbers of households in most of the age ranges. However, changes in the number of households will be most pronounced in certain age groups, due to both an aging of the existing population, and the most likely profile of new households moving into the area. Changes in the percentage of households in different age ranges will have an impact on housing demand.


The most significant increases by age group that are projected to occur by 2006 will be among households age 45 to 64 years old, reflecting in part the movement of the “baby boomers” through the aging cycle. Households in these age ranges tend to be predominantly home owners and will probably be looking for high amenity housing locations, such as lakeshore sites. The growth expected in these age ranges will primarily demand owner-occupied housing production. As households in these age groups grow older, they may increasingly look for lower maintenance housing options, such as townhouse developments, that fit with their lifestyle.


There is also a projected increase among households age 25 to 34 years old. Households in the younger age ranges tend to rent with much greater frequency, and also form the majority of first time home buyer households.


While there is some growth projected among senior households, this increase is not expected to be as large as in some other parts of the County. There are relatively few services in the Tamarack area that cater to the needs of older seniors, such as a hospital or senior life-cycle housing. As a result, while there is an above average number of younger senior citizens, there is a below average number of older seniors in the area.


These growth projections will be incorporated into the specific housing recommendations that follow.


Strengths For Housing Development


The following strengths of the community were identified through statistical data, local interviews, previous research and on-site review of the local housing stock.

 ►          Tamarack benefits from natural amenities - The area around Tamarack contains lake shore and wilderness residential options. This has attracted new people to the area as a permanent place to live. The City is close to Big Sandy Lake. These high-amenity locations not only attract residents, but they also add to the quality of life for all local residents.

 ►          Attractive location for seniors and retirees - With its nearby lakes and natural amenities, the area around Tamarack has been a popular location for retired and semi-retired households. The percentage of empty-nesters and seniors in the in the age ranges between 55 and 84 years old is above the State-wide average.

►          Commuting distance to McGregor - Tamarack is within easy commuting distance of employment opportunities in McGregor, and the south shore area of Big Sandy Lake.

 ►          Affordable existing housing stock - A large majority of the existing single-family houses in Tamarack are very affordable, priced at $40,000 or less. However, some of these houses are older, and may need maintenance and rehabilitation to remain desirable options.

 ►          Concentrated rehabilitation program - The City has secured grant funds through the Small Cities Development Program to offer a concentrated housing rehabilitation program.

►          Municipal sewer system planned - The City has secured grant and loan funds for the construction of a municipal sewer system.


Barriers or Limitations to Housing Activities

Our research also identified the following barriers, or limitations, that hinder or prevent certain housing activities in the City of Tamarack.

►          Competition with other jurisdictions - Although the area has had some growth over the last 10 years, most of this growth has occurred outside of the City limits, in the surrounding townships. This is especially true of higher valued homes and higher income households. While Tamarack still benefits economically, the City does not capture the expanded tax base resulting from this rural growth.

►          Value Gap Deters New Owner-Occupied Construction - Based on market values for property taxes and recent residential sales, we estimate that the median priced home in Tamarack is valued at $22,000 to $29,000. This is well below the comparable cost for new housing construction, which will generally be well above $100,000.00 for a stick-built house with commonly expected amenities. This creates a significant “value gap” between new construction and existing homes. This is an obvious disincentive for any type of speculative building, but also serves to deter customized construction, unless the owner is willing to accept a potential loss on their investment.

►          Condition of the Housing Stock - While the existing stock is very affordable, much of it is old and may need substantial improvement to meet expectations of potential buyers. Units lost to deterioration or obsolescence cannot be replaced in a similar price range. Our survey of housing conditions rated a majority of houses and mobile homes in the City as needing repair, although most of these structures only required minor repair.

 ►          Staff Capacity Limitations - The City operates with limited personnel. It is very difficult for existing staff with current responsibilities to develop new housing initiatives. The County HRA is also available to assist the City but also has limited staff availability to initiate new projects.

 ►          Economic difficulties - Although the City’s economy has improved over much of the last decade, the County’s unemployment rate was more than double the State-wide rate in 2000.

 ►          Lower incomes limit housing choices - Income estimates for Tamarack and the surrounding market areas indicate that incomes are relatively low. The Market Area’s estimated median household income for 2001, $24,189, translates into an approximate ownership affordability level of $60,000, and an affordable rent level between $302 and $605 per month. While these affordability levels match up well with prices for existing housing in the City, they are generally not well matched to the prices for new housing construction.

 ►          Limited employment and services - Very few employment opportunities are provided in or around Tamarack. Most residents must commute to their places of work. The City also lacks basic retail/commercial services, again requiring residents to commute for groceries, medicines, medical clinics, etc.


Recommendations, Strategies and Housing Market Opportunities

Based on the research contained in this study, and the housing strengths and barriers identified above, we believe that the following recommendations are realistic options for the City of Tamarack. They are based on the following strategies:

►          Focus heavily on the preservation, maintenance and improvement of the housing stock that already exists in the City - While some housing construction may occur in coming years, most of the housing opportunities will continue to be provided by the housing stock that is already on the ground. This is especially important for affordable housing opportunities, as it will almost always be less expensive to offer an affordable unit through rehabilitation versus new construction. Units that are lost due to deterioration and obsolescence cannot be replaced for a similar price.

►          Be realistic in expectations for new housing development - Residential growth has not occurred in the recent past, and is not likely to occur in the near future. It appears that mobile homes have been the only housing units added to the City in many years. While the City has not had a sewer system, which may have hampered new construction, it is doubtful that new housing development will occur in the near future.


Recommendations

 1.         Continue to rehabilitate the existing housing stock

Findings: The City’s existing housing stock will provide the large majority of the affordably priced housing, both now and into the future. Existing houses generally sell at a discount to their replacement value. It will be impossible to replace affordable, existing units that are lost to deterioration.

Our analysis of housing condition found that nearly all of Tamarack’s housing units need repair. While many of these houses only require minor repairs, which makes rehabilitation programs economically feasible, we did rate 7 houses and 4 mobile homes as needing major repair. With low home values in the City, it can be difficult to cost-effectively rehabilitate older housing.

Recommendation: The City has taken the most important step to rehabilitate its housing. The Small Cities Development Program grant should have a major impact on housing condition.

On-going rehabilitation efforts are recommended for owner-occupied homes. The City should pursue the housing rehabilitation funds through the Lakes and Pines CAC, and other local program providers.


 2.         Acquire and clear dilapidated properties as needed

Findings: The City may contain houses that are too deteriorated to rehabilitate. The windshield condition survey rated 7 houses and 1 mobile home as dilapidated and possibly beyond repair. To improve the appearance of the community, a program should be developed to acquire and demolish dilapidated structures as needed.

Recommendations: The City should look for resources to acquire and demolish severely dilapidated structures, with affordable home redevelopment on the available lots.

Some communities have been able to offer affordable home ownership through modular homes on lower priced lots. In-fill building sites created through acquisition and clearance activities may provide appropriate sites for modular homes or other lower priced options. Habitat for Humanity has been active in creating housing in Aitkin. Acquired properties could be donated to Habitat for the development lower priced homes.


3.         Utilize the MURL Program

Findings: Tamarack has an older, lower valued housing stock, with many homes in need of repair. Our analysis of estimated market values for property taxes, and recent sales activity indicates that the median priced home in the City is valued between $22,000 and $29,000. As homes below the median price come up for sale, they may not be attractive options for potential home buyers because of the amount of repair work that is required.

The Minnesota Urban and Rural Homesteading (MURL) Program is funded by the Legislature through the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. Under the program, the City or a housing agency purchases an existing home that needs rehabilitation, rehabilitates the home, sells the home to a low income family and provides a mortgage with no down payment, no interest and a monthly payment that is affordable for the family. The MURL Program accomplishes many community goals, including the promotion of home ownership for lower income people, and the repair of substandard housing units.

In many cases, the cost of acquisition and rehab will exceed the house’s after rehab value. Although a public subsidy may be involved, the costs to rehab and sell an existing housing unit are generally lower than the subsidy required to provide an equally affordable unit through new construction.

Recommendations: As part of rehabilitation efforts, we recommend that the City promote and utilize the availability of MURL Program funds through MHFA to purchase, repair and re-sell lower valued houses to low and moderate income people. In addition to MURL funds, other possible funding sources include SCDP and other MHFA programs.


4.         Promote and access all programs that assist with home ownership

Findings: Home ownership is generally the preferred housing option for most households and most communities. Home ownership provides for community stability, improves housing quality and strengthens the tax base. The affordable home prices in Tamarack are conducive to the promotion of home ownership. Part of the reason that the City has grown in recent years has been the availability of affordable ownership options.

Recommendation: While very few houses come up for sale in Tamarack, potential home buyers should be made aware of assistance programs that may be available for first time home buyers. The Central Minnesota Housing Partnership has worked with many of the innovative ownership programs, and can help potential buyers access the programs that are available.


5.         Limited demand for rental housing

Findings: The City of Tamarack has no multifamily rental units. Nearly all of the rental housing in this portion of Aitkin County is provided in the City of McGregor, which has a relatively large supply of rental housing. Additional area rentals are available in single family homes and mobile homes. Despite the absence of any apartment unit in Tamarack, we see very little potential for rental unit construction in this City.

Any multifamily development that does occur in the Market Area, should be within the City limits of McGregor, to allow for municipal services, and tenant access to retail and employment opportunities. We do not view Tamarack as a self-supporting community. There are no retail/commercial services and very few employment options. Households must commute for basic services, such as groceries.

Recommendation: McGregor offers a number of affordable rental options for Tamarack residents. We have made recommendations for additional development in McGregor.


6.         Develop a staff relationship with area housing agencies

Findings: The community will need staff resources to plan and implement many of the housing ideas advanced in this study. The City has an active County Housing and Redevelopment Authority (HRA), Lakes and Pines CAC, the Central Minnesota Housing Partnership (CMHP) and the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency (AEOA), all providing housing programs and technical assistance. These agencies all have proven track-records with housing program development and delivery.

Recommendation: While the City is fortunate to have multiple agencies for housing activities, this arrangement could result in no single agency having responsibility to coordinate and implement the housing initiatives recommended in this Study. While there has traditionally been a good degree of staff interaction between these agencies, it will be important that a coordinated approach be used to prioritize and assign responsibility for certain housing programs.

This page left blank intentionally.