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Developers have big plans for growing Watford

Posted 5/23/12 (Wed)

By Lauren Billing
Farmer Staff Writer

The American dream has always been rooted in the ability to own a home. But with very few homes available in and around Watford City, many have not been able to buy homes here, and therefore, are not establishing roots in North Dakota.
However, the rapid growth of residential developments to come this summer and fall and the next few years will drastically change that, allowing Watford City to fulfill the American dream of home ownership for more people.
There are currently nine different development plans in the immediate vicinity of Watford City. In total, they encompass well over 800 acres.
The largest development plans are residential subdivisions that include commercial lots, things like shops, restaurants and office space, to serve the immediate neighborhoods.
Fox Hills Village is being developed by Bakken Housing Partners. The subdivision will sit on the south side of Highway 23, just across from the Fox Hills Golf & Country Club.
Mark Bragg is leading the Bakken Housing Partners on the Fox Hills project, which is a master plan community.
The entire community will have 1,104 individual dwelling units, spanning 320 acres. It will include apartments, town homes, single-family homes, offices, retail, a hotel and open space, along with a community center that will also have day care and the possibility of a bowling alley.
Phase One of the project will cover 40 acres at the very northwest of the development and includes 470 apartment units, two office buildings, which will be available to rent, and 100 town homes available for purchase. Bragg expects that parts of Phase One will be completed this fall.
Bragg and Bakken Housing Partners are very committed to seeing that the Watford City community is getting exactly what it needs with Fox Hills Village. That means that the first 50 town home units will first be available to civil servants, which includes professionals like police officers, teachers or healthcare providers.
They are also allowing local business owners or locals trying to start businesses to have first option for any of the retail or commercial space they build within the subdivision.
“We really want to create a quality community that people can afford to live in,” says Bragg.
Construction on Phase One of Fox Hills Village is set to begin in June, with building to begin as early as July. A process that, according to Bragg, has never gone faster.
“The process normally begins with planning what to do with the land, then getting permits and then going under contract which can take months or years,” explains Bragg. “But we’ve gotten it all done in three months. I’ve never seen this process move so fast.”
Pheasant Hills is another large residential subdivision, covering more than 230 acres. It will be located northwest of Watford City off Highway 85. Steve Bryan, president of MRC Development, has been working on the project for six months and is close to final authorization. He plans to begin work as soon as possible.
“We have been hearing about the boom in the Bakken and the need for housing,” says Bryan. “We would like to be part of providing that for the area.”
Pheasant Hills will include multi-family units, single-family units and commercial lots.
Bryan and MRC plan to build and sell 500 multi-family units, with the possibility of some single-family units as well. There will also be approximately 300 lots that MRC will not build on, but will have available for sale to builders or individuals who would like to build within the development.
Pheasant Hills will have covenants and certain restrictions to maintain quality living for all of its residents.
“We are looking forward to developing in Watford City,” says Bryan. “The city has been very helpful and we have enjoyed working here so far.”
Cherry Ridge will be located southwest of Watford City off of 14th Avenue Southwest. Dan Fitzpatrick, president of Wild West Investments, is looking to build every type of housing unit within Cherry Ridge.
The subdivision will include apartments, single and multi-family houses, as well as commercial and retail lots.
Fitzpatrick and Wild West Investments plan to begin work in June, pending final approval from planning and zoning and the city council. Phase One of their project will include nine 10-unit row houses and seven 24-unit apartment buildings.
Fitzpatrick also plans to develop some single-family home lots, twin lots and four-plex lots for other builders to purchase and build on. In all there will be nearly 300 lots available to other builders or individuals for a total of 1,100 dwelling units in the entire subdivision.
“We came to the Bakken looking for somewhere to do some building,” says Fitzpatrick. “We picked Watford City because of the people. It took us less than half a day to realize that this was where we wanted to work.”
Watford City city officials are excited to see the incredible amount of building about to commence in the area, but also are keeping in mind what they want those developments to look like.
“The city is continuing its efforts to plan the transportation corridors, commercial zones and all types of residential zones to keep in step with the development activity,” says Brent Sanford, Watford City mayor. “The city council is also constantly working with other community groups to keep community infrastructure needs in mind such as daycare and affordable housing for essential personnel.”
Curt Moen, Watford City city planner, is currently addressing the city’s need for an updated comprehensive plan that will include all the new developments.
“The task of keeping up with all the growth seems daunting at times,” says Moen. “But the developers we are working with are all great and make my job a lot easier.”
Developments like Fox Hills Village, Pheasant Hills and Cherry Ridge, along with six others, will open the door for many of those working in the area to bring their families to Watford City and establish roots in the community.
The accompanying amenities, like hotels, restaurants and shopping, community centers, day cares and parks and trails, will add variety for residents, new and old. Enriching the community and providing much needed residential housing and services, will allow Watford City to again be a warm, inviting and permanent place to live.
Anyone interested in more information on Fox Hills can call Bakken Housing Partners at 1-888-958-3447. For Pheasant Hills and MRC Development visit www.mrcdevelopment.com.