KILLDEER — Just steps away from an RV park, a contingent gathered here Wednesday to signify the grand opening of a new “affordable housing” apartment building.
Local and state dignitaries gathered for a ceremony and lunch at the Buckskin Bar and Grill before heading to the Prairie Gold Apartments, a recently finished 24-unit apartment complex on Rodeo Drive developed by Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing President Don Hedger in conjunction with the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency.
“This is a great project and we’re happy to be a part of it,” Hedger said. “I want to thank everyone who helped us on this project because this is a project that was needed in our community and we received a lot of help.”
Up and running with some units already occupied, the $3.5 million Prairie Gold complex has 14 units reserved for “income-qualified” renters, as outlined by North Dakota’s Housing Incentive Fund.
The complex has units for law enforcement personnel and their families, as well as apartments for KMM employees and others working in Killdeer, the largest town in Dunn County — a fast-growing part of the Oil Patch. The remaining 10 apartments are slated to be rented at market rates, Hedger said.
“With housing nearly non-existent in Killdeer, we felt it was our duty to move on this project,” Hedger said. “Our objective was to ensure that there was an affordable housing option for our employees and the employees of other Main Street businesses in the community.”
Visible when entering Killdeer while traveling north on Highway 22, the building only has two-bedroom apartments and, as part of the NDHFA’s Law Enforcement Pilot Program, keeps two units set aside for law enforcement personnel working in the area.
To qualify for the reduced pilot program rate, the household’s primary source of income must come from employment in law enforcement, according to the NDHFA. “We’re very grateful to Mr. Hedger and the folks at KMM,” said Sgt. Tom Iverson of the North Dakota Highway Patrol. “Getting an apartment online here in Killdeer was important. As we all know, this is a busy area for law enforcement. Our number of calls for service and our fatal crashes have been skyrocketing in this area, so we need to have a large law enforcement presence in this area. The problem is we can’t just bring people in if we don’t have housing for them.”
During Wednesday’s ceremony in the Buckskin, Hedger also thanked Marathon Oil for contributing to the project by way of a $3 million donation made to the state through a tax incentive, according to the NDHFA. The state’s Housing Incentive Fund was allocated $35.4 million for projects during the 2013 legislative session.
“We’re very concerned about keeping small communities growing, not just the large communities in the state,” said Jolene Kline of the NDHFA. “The Killdeers, the Belfields, the Hazens, the Stanleys — we provide those types of communities a lot of assistance because those smaller communities often lack the people infrastructure to get housing developed.
“These communities need affordable housing for teachers, law enforcement, retail and nursing home employees.”