Is the bust over?

Ten to 15 years ago, New Prague was enjoying unprecedented growth. Housing was going up at a record pace in the community and commercial properties were also booming - the East Town Plaza, Alco, Coborn’s and the adjoining strip mall. Walgreen’s and a new building for the State Bank all opened during that time, and there were plans for a senior residential complex and a Wal-Mart store on the table. The city’s population also grew dramatically during the decade.

By the end of the decade, however, the boom had gone bust, along with much of the national economy. Housing starts slowed dramatically and there was little commercial building going on. The senior complex and Wal-Mart projects were cancelled.

The city did recover, although there were a few setbacks. Econofoods closed its doors and the building sat vacant for a number of years. Alco also closed, although that was due more to the national economy and a bankruptcy, and not local sales. That retail space was taken over by Shopko Hometown and appears to be doing well. Overall, most existing businesses stayed strong and many grew.

Now, it appears that the economy has recovered locally and nationally, and the city has started to “boom” again. Construction recently began on a new senior housing project and the Econofoods site was recently demolished to make way for a new Kwik-Trip store. Residential developments that were platted years ago are beginning to fill up with houses. The city seems positioned for more growth. Here’s hoping that the city takes a good look at the nature of the growth and keeps things moving in a positive, orderly way.

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