Area investors hope to bring an end to Watford City’s housing shortage
By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer
Driving through Watford City, one might think they’re at a popular summer travel destination as campers of all sorts fill the area’s campgrounds and even some parking lots. Although McKenzie County has become a very popular camping spot this summer, it’s not vacationers who are flocking to the area. The camping spots have been filled with job seekers attracted to the area by an abundance of available jobs.
With much of the country’s economy and job market in shambles, many job seekers came to the area with the intention of finding a job. A place to live was something they would worry about after finding work. But for many newcomers to the county, a place to live has proved to be a lot harder to find than they expected, something area investors hope they can help to change.
“Housing for the current labor market is inadequate,” says Brent Sanford, Watford City mayor. “We’ve seen a lot of progress over the past year, and there are companies working as fast as they can to get housing in place. But until some of the new units are available, many people have no other choice than to live in a camper or tent.”
With new housing subdivisions, trailer courts and industrial parks under construction, it is safe to say that the housing situation should soon begin to change for those who wish to get out of their campers into something more permanent.
“Hopefully, mobile home parks and temporary housing will help to alleviate some of the housing problems before winter, with more permanent housing coming along soon after that,” comments Sanford. “The campers have been a way to get people here to fill our need for workers and their need for employment, with temporary housing being their next step. We are hopeful that those people will decide they like it here and make the permanent move by purchasing a home.”
Several businesses and private investors have chosen Watford City for their housing projects, with several housing projects underway in Watford City and its surrounding area.
John Dunlap, who owns Watford City Hospitality Associates, LLC, along with his father-in-law, David Veeder, has completed one housing project in Watford City and is currently working on two more.
“Rain has set back both of our projects by about a month, but we are persevering and plan to have housing available by November,” says Dunlap. “We are excited about our products, and I think both of our current projects will be a huge asset to Watford City.”
Dunlap is working on a 72-unit short-term stay complex along the bypass south of town, as well as 25 single family homes in Veeder Estates, which is located north of Pro Auto Body.
Although his projects have been underway the longest, Dunlap isn’t the only investor working in the area. Scarlett Enterprises and Black Horse Construction, both out of Wyoming, are each working on subdivisions around Watford City and Greg’s Welding, also out of Wyoming, is working on a trailer court west of Watford City, and these are only some of the projects underway in the area.
“Mobile home parks are going to help us out a lot in the short term,” adds Sanford. “There are two mobile home parks in the works that will each house 200 permanent trailer houses. It takes more time to build or get a house on a foundation than it does a mobile home, so these new parks will really help alleviate some of the housing stress while people wait to buy homes.”
Scarlett Enterprises out of Jackson, Wyo., is working to bring houses to the area for its subdivision southwest of Watford City.
“We hope to have our first home in place by Friday with five to 10 more to follow before winter,” says Griffin Scarlett, Scarlett Enterprises owner. “Phase 1 of the project will consist of 1,100 square foot houses with three bedrooms and two baths on an acre plus lot. These homes will be priced between $130,000 and $140,000.”
If Phase 1 goes well, Scarlett would like to complete Phase 2 with 14 larger homes.
In addition to home building, Black Horse Construction has started work on Nodak Subdivision southeast of Watford City.
“I’ve been here for a year now and I am working on a subdivision for small businesses,” says Eric Fairbanks of Black Horse Construction. “It’s hard for small business owners like myself to find a place for a shop, yard and office, which is why I decided to build the Nodak Subdivision.”
Whether it’s housing or office space you’re looking for, the right space for your family or business will hopefully be available soon.