Down Knik Goose Bay Road in the Matanuska Valley is a wide open, muddy pit. Nearby, amid remnants from recently cleared woodlands, stands a red and white sign proclaiming "Shopping Center Coming Soon." In the backdrop of the empty lot are big, modern-looking new homes on subdivided lots of land.
These are only a few of the clear signs of the times in the developing region just north of Anchorage.
In 2006, just about a year before the nation's financial crisis hit and the housing bubble burst, single-family home construction tapered off in the Last Frontier. In the years prior, between 2003 and 2005, about 4,700 new units were built around the state every year. Last year only 2,033 were built -- but 38 percent of those were constructed in the Matanuska Valley.
According to economist Karinne Wiebold, new construction of all residential building types across the state has fallen "considerably" since the mid-2000s, and although there has been a drop in construction, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough area is still dominating the rest of the state.
"In 2005, 1,594 new single-family homes were built in the Mat-Su Borough, and from 2007 to 2013 the annual number fell to between 600 and 800 per year," Wiebold said.
Over the last decade, 22,561 single family homes were built across the state. Between 2003 and 2013, 47 percent of those, or 10,588 homes, were built in the Matanuska Borough.