May 6, 2009

Developer plans new housing units for Watford

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

The shortage of new homes within the city limits of Watford City may be coming to an end if a Montana developer has his way.
John Dunlap, president of Cascade Homes, Incorporated of Bozeman, Mont. last week entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Watford City Housing Authority to construct six new single family townhouses on property north of the  Housing Authority’s apartment complex  property. The Housing Authority’s apartments are located on the south side of the city along the Highway 23 Bypass.
And during a special city council meeting on Wednesday, April 29, Dunlap presented the council with a conceptual plan for the construction of 15 new single family homes on  city-owned property along the Highway 23 Bypass.
According to Dunlap, he has already begin to prep the site for construction of the townhouses and is anticipating the vertical construction of the units to begin within the month.
“Each of the 1,415 square foot townhouses will feature three bedrooms, two bathrooms and will have a two-car attached garage,” stated Dunlap. “Plus all of our homes carry a 10 year warranty.”
Dunlap, who created Cascade Homes in 1996 in Bozeman, Mont., has built between 500 and 600 single family homes in the Gallatin Valley.
“Our company focuses on building affordable, entry level single family homes,” stated Dunlap. “We elected to pull back on our development in the Bozeman area and began to look at expansion into areas such as Watford City.”
As part of Dunlap’s effort to expand his company’s presence in western North Dakota, in December he broke ground on a 50-unit townhouse project in Williston which will be completed in May.
“We try to identify the demographic need of the community and then build homes to suit that need,” stated Dunlap. “We believe that there is a demand for the new townhouses in Watford City as well as for new single family homes.”
While Dunlap is finalizing his plans to acquire the Housing Authority’s project for the construction of the townhouses, during Wednesday night’s city council meeting he outlined his conceptual plans for the construction of the 15 single family homes.
“There is  going to have to be significant change to the lay of the land to adequately handle the drainage issues on the property,” stated Dunlap. “In fact the cost of improving the elevation of the property could be more than the property is worth.”
Dunlap also expressed his concern of the need to figure out how to handle the cost of making the necessary infrastructure improvements to the property, such as water and sewer lines, streets, curbs and gutters.
“Normally those costs are shared between the developer, the city and ultimately, the purchaser of the home,” stated Dunlap.
While the city council acknowledged that they would probably need to share in the cost of improving the property for development, they needed to obtain more accurate cost estimates.
“For the conceptual plan to go forward, we (the city) need to know what the numbers are,” stated Brent Sanford, councilman. “We know that there is a cost that the city will have to bear, whether it’s through special assessments that will be passed on to the homeowner or as a city cost.”
According to Dunlap, he could have all of those costs prepared within two days.