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Buidling season begins

Posted 5/25/11 (Wed)

By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

After a long and snowy winter, everyone is anxious to get outdoors and get started on their spring projects. And no group is more anxious than Watford City homeowners who have remodeling or building plans on their minds.
And the boom in home building and remodeling is going through the roof in Watford City according to Curt Moen, city building inspector.
“It’s an exciting time in Watford City to be sure,” says Moen of the flurry of building permits that are flowing into his office daily. “The change in the number of permits that we’re seeing has been dramatic over the past three months now that the weather has started to warm up.”
Although Moen notes that he doesn’t have accurate data on the actual number of permits issued for new home construction from 2000 to 2009, he says that the number could probably have been counted on one hand. But that is not the case today.
“We have people coming in almost every day to submit plans to either build a new home or to remodel an older piece of property that they have bought,” states Moen.
So far during the first four months of 2011, Moen says that 28 building permits have been issued. A total of 191 were issued in 2010, while 108 permits were issued in 2009.
But it is not just the single home owners that are setting their sights on building new homes in and around Watford City this spring.
“The developers of Veeder Estates in Watford City have plans to ultimately construct 64 new single family homes,” states Brent Sanford, Watford City mayor. “I sincerely hope that they are able to build at least 24 of those homes this summer as it would be a good indicator of exactly what the market is for new homes.”
Plus according to Sanford, another developer has plans to build 100-plus single family homes on property east of the Terrace Subdivision.
“From all indications, this developer is ready to go forward with plans to build these homes,” states Sanford. “They’ve secured their financing, which is a very positive sign and they have expressed interest in having the property annexed into the city limits.”
And while Sanford is excited to see some new single family homes scheduled to be built this summer, he is disappointed that more isn’t being done.
“It’s amazing to me to see how long it takes for the housing demand to translate into homes actually being built,” comments Sanford. “We’ve said for five years that we need housing, and only now is something starting to happen.”
Part of Sanford’s frustration is the lack of developers following through on their plans.
“We’ve had developers come to us with big plans,” states Sanford. “But nothing seems to be getting off the ground. It’s frustrating for the city when we have such an incredible demand for housing.”
And for Sanford, who is seeing the city’s population continue to swell, the lack of housing is frustrating.
“Right now we know that we have way more than the 2,500 people living within a one-mile radius of Watford City that was estimated by the state a year ago,” states Sanford. “And we simply don’t have places for people to live.”
While Sanford is glad to see a couple of developers moving forward with the construction of single family homes, he is concerned that no new housing options are in the works for the typical non-oil field workers.
“My overlying concern is that there doesn’t seem to be any plans to build housing for Main Street employees, city or county workers or for employees at the healthcare system or with the school district,” states Sanford. “We’re just not seeing any builder coming forward with plans to build affordable housing or apartments. Until we see affordable rental housing, these entities can’t fill their available positions.”
Which may be why Moen is seeing an upswing in area residents buying older homes and remodeling them or hiring contractors to build their homes.
“There’s a lot of remodeling projects of older homes going on right now,” states Moen. “We’re seeing people buying older homes that were once sitting empty, investing some money into them and turning them into nice homes. Plus, right now we have a number of contractors in town that have crews available to get the building projects done in a timely manner.”