August 19, 2009

Construction begins on two Watford housing projects

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

It may not happen before the snow flies, but Watford City residents looking for housing should be able to get into the Lutheran Social Services Housing units before Christmas.
LSS housing has begun work on a 24-unit twin home complex that is expected to be ready for occupancy on Nov. 1, and Cascade Homes of Bozeman, Mont. has begun construction on eight town homes which are expected to be completed in 60 to 70 days.
“We are scheduled to pour the first foundation this week,” says Jessica Thomasson, LSS Housing Inc. director. “The first 12 units will be available Nov. 1 with the remaining 12 to follow shortly after that.”
The LSS units, which will be located south of the Watford City Elementary School, will consist of 12 one or two-bedroom duplex modular homes. Each unit will have all appliances including a washer and dryer. A one-stall garage and patio make the units feel more like a home than an apartment.
The biggest difference between the two projects is that the LSS project involves rental units while the homes by Cascade will be available to purchase at prices equivalent to renting.
“Our product is a ranch-style single level town home,” adds John Dunlap, Cascade Homes chief executive officer. “Each home will have its own lot complete with landscaping and a two-car garage.”
“Last fall we were looking at a goal of keeping rent between $450 and $700, and we are excited to announce that thanks to funding the rents will be even lower,” adds Thomasson. “With financing complete, the one-bedroom rents will range from $325 to $495 and the two-bedroom units will be from $395 to $595.”
LSS’s $2.1 million project has been funded by $915,000 in grants with the remainder of the project being funded by donations and loans.
A portion of the grant money going to the LSS Housing project came from a $315,000 grant given to Watford City.
The North Dakota Department of Commerce, in conjunction with the Tri-County Regional Development Council, provided the $315,000 grant to Watford City specifically for the Watford City Creekside Cottages multi-family housing project.
“With the dramatic increase in oil field activity over the past year and a half, there continues to be a tremendous need for rental housing,” said Everette Enno, executive director of the Tri-County Regional Development Council.  “Available rental properties are currently occupied, and the demand will continue to grow.”
The grant will be used toward soft costs associated with the project, including construction loan interest, legal fees, construction loan fees, bond issuance, interest buy down and appliances.  In addition to the state funding, $450,000 in Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds and $150,000 in Home Funds through Affordable Housing Developers Inc. have been secured. Donations and loans will cover the remainder of the project costs.
“Now that all of the primary sources of funding have been secured, we will be seeking local donations to complete the budget and help make this project all it can be.”
With financing in place and rent rates set, LSS is ready to start accepting applications for the units.
“We’re really excited to start serving the tenants of Watford City,” adds Thomasson. “We plan to start taking applications within the next week. In the meantime I can take the names of interested tenants and send out the application information as soon as it is available.”
For more information on the LSS Housing project, Thomasson can be reached at 701-271-3201 or and for more information on the Cascade project, contact Cascade Homes at 1-406-585-9230.