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Homestead at Watford City will be 720-acre, master-planned community

Posted 1/13/15 (Tue)

By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer

After Diane Gariety and Pamela Scott (Holm sisters) were gifted land from their brother, Rick Holm, a little over two years ago, the sisters decided to donate some land for a school, a softball complex and soccer field, and for essential workforce housing in a new residential development being planned on the north side of Watford City.
“We are donating the land because we want to give back to the community,” says Gariety. “It’s a time of growth here, and we want to be a part of it.”
According to Adam Berger, manager for Adam Berger Development, LLC, and development manager for the Holm family, the Homestead at Watford City is a 720-acre master-planned community. It is currently the largest master-planned community in western North Dakota, and will be developed in phases over the next several years.
Berger is not new to the Watford City area. He developed The Highlands at Watford City, a 43-acre development, which was completed in 2014. During this project, Berger met Gariety’s husband, Terry Gariety, and they decided to partner to develop the Homestead. Terry has been the ‘person on the ground’ for the family, working very closely with Berger to get things accomplished with the Homestead.
“Our whole agenda was to figure out what we could do to help solve the city’s needs,” said Berger. “The city needed housing for the city and county workers - that’s been a drum beat from the leaders of this community from the beginning. They also needed land for a school, and the park board wanted land for a softball complex and soccer field. The city/county sought out developers to help solve the forefront need - workforce housing - and that’s where I came into play. So the whole approach has been to partner with the community, give back to the community, and help solve the community’s needs.”
With the sisters wanting to use their land holdings to provide for those needs, the project has moved along at a steady and consistent rate.
“It’s a multi-stage plan,” said Scott. “We have worked very closely with the city and county, and we want to continue with our close ties to the community. We have loved working with the community on this project.”
The Holm family would like to carry on the family legacy in Watford City. The Holm sisters’ grandparents homesteaded in Watford City in 1908. Their father, Arne Holm, resides in the same home their grandparents lived in. He and his wife, Dorothy, were married for 64 years, until Dorothy’s passing four years ago, and together they raised their three children in that same home.
“Our parents were members of the community,” said Gariety. “My dad lived here his entire life and my mother since she graduated from high school in Watford City. Our parents actually met at the Main Street Cafe, where our mother worked. We’re so close to the community, physically, that we have to be a part of the community. Our parents set it up that way. They were always involved, so we were always a part of the community and ‘community’ was huge. We didn’t branch out much from our community back then. It was a different era. It was a big deal to make a trip to Williston every few months.”
The Holm family has a vision for this overall project with the Homestead. With the oil boom increasing the population tenfold, they didn’t just want to develop their land into a mass of buildings, and they knew the land wasn’t going to be used as agricultural land. They wanted to not only meet specific needs of the city, they also wanted to be good stewards to the land and community.
“I envision there being some open green space provided for the whole community,” said Scott. “I want the people to enjoy it. I’d like to see walking paths, to be used by both the young and old. I see the value in the community being able to use this space to socialize and meet others, and have a safe environment to do so. I envision parents taking their kids to the park, and families walking their dogs. I can see children safely walking to and from school. I think it can become easy for people to feel isolated, and I think this would help with that.”
As Watford City continues to grow, the Holm family wants the Homestead development to be a nice transition for the community to continue to grow there.
“We want to be good stewards of the land,” said Gariety. “When Curt Moen, the city planner for Watford City, said, ‘I want to see a plan,’ he really set the standard high, and wanted to hire a company that would help us envision and show an extension of our community.”
The vision of the Holm family and the vision of the city/county was very similar in that they both wanted the best for their community.
“With long-established families leading our city/county,” said Scott, “we trust them and we know they are in for the long haul. The city had been talking about that land being a part of the city, so we knew it was a good fit, and we’ve all been working pretty hard through this entire process.”
According to Berger, a 12-acre lot of the 720-acre Homestead project, will start to be developed by G.A. Haan Development this spring to meet the city and county’s first need - essential workforce housing.
In three different phases, work will begin on essential workforce housing, moderate income housing, market rate housing, and a senior housing complex. The Holm sisters decided to donate four acres for the essential workforce housing development piece in this 12-acre lot, with a commitment to donate an additional four acres as the project proceeds.
In addition to this project beginning in the near future with G.A. Haan Development, entitlements for 240 acres within Phase 1 of the Homestead Master Plan are complete. Construction of the horizontal infrastructure of the 70 acres of R4 zoned land (high density, i.e. apartments) along Main Street is currently underway, including 600,000 cubic yards of cut/fill earth work and two miles of water lines. Sanitary sewer is in place, and the construction of 1.5 miles of roadways will commence this spring.
“There is interest in the lots along Main Street,” said Berger. “They are the lots that are adjacent to recent infrastructure, basically the eastern half of the Homestead development. That’s where the interest is. We’re actually in the process of executing contracts.”
Once the deeds for the land are given to the school district and the park board, the building of an elementary school and softball complex with a soccer field can begin.
“The family is really committed to making the Homestead a really high-quality extension of the community,” said Berger. “It’s a neighborhood that not only they can be proud of, but the community can be proud of as well. We have a long-term vision that everyone can be proud of. It’s been a pleasure working with this family. They are very thoughtful, caring people. They’ve been involved in all of the details. I think everyone is very excited about this project.”
Berger is also assisting the family with two other projects - a 300-acre residential development northeast of the city and 54-acre retail/commercial project south of Watford City.