Nome Common Council approves demonstration of new housing technology

common council meeting

The Nome Common Council approved a plan on June 13 for the city to collaborate with Pennsylvania State University and a nonprofit called the Xtreme Habitats Institute to demonstrate the use of 3D printing technology in home construction. The Alaska Housing Finance Corporation and the Denali Commission are funding the project, and the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development is also involved.

This project could eventually lead to much lower construction costs in Western Alaska.

“The cost of constructing a home using traditional materials is about $600 a square foot in the Nome census district. The goal is to get this pricing down to about $300 a square foot,” City Manager Glenn Steckman said.

That level of cost reduction is, however, a long-term goal. The current project is only a demonstration, and is still in its early stages. Penn State and the Xtreme Habitats Institute will begin 3D-printing the first of two planned houses next year, Steckman said, and they will start on the second house the year after.

The council also passed the city’s budget for fiscal year 2023 at the June 13 meeting. As KNOM previously reported, this year’s budget contains some significant changes from last year.

“There are raises in there for the recently agreed-to union agreement, … and one of the major additions is for the city to go out and hire an assistant city manager, who would also serve in the role as economic development director in the city as we begin to look at a way to assist local businesses and encourage people to develop businesses in the community,” Steckman explained.

For Nome residents, expenditures should remain much the same. The property tax rate for fiscal year 2023 will remain at 1.2%, Steckman said. The council voted in April to suspend the summer sales tax increase for 2022.

The Nome Common Council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, June 27.

Image at top: Council Members Scot Henderson (left) and Adam Martinson (center) and Mayor John Handeland (right) at the June 13 Nome Common Council meeting. Photo by Sean Milligan, KNOM (2022).