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Former UND hockey star buys land to stop planned apartment development

Brandon Bochenski looks across the street in April from their south Grand Forks home where developers are hoping to build an apartment complex. The plans were withdrawn Wednesday after Bochenski bought the land. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

A former UND hockey standout has bought land near his Grand Forks home, effectively blocking plans to build apartment buildings next to his neighborhood.

Brandon Bochenski told the Herald Wednesday he and his wife, Jenny, reached an agreement with Deacon’s Development this week to buy 19 acres of land near South Washington Street and 62nd Avenue South. The Hampton Corp. of Grand Forks proposed building six 24-unit apartment buildings on the property, but those plans were withdrawn Wednesday morning in light of the purchase agreement, City Planner Brad Gengler said.

“It’s like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders,” Bochenski said.  

The apartment complex was part of a proposal for a 35-acre piece of undeveloped land near King’s Walk Golf Course.

The Hampton Corp. had been waiting to buy the land until city officials approved their proposal, Bochenski said, but his family made an offer to buy the land to keep the apartment buildings from going up.

“We decided to just make sure and save the neighborhood,” he said.

Revised plans had not been submitted to the city as of Wednesday afternoon, Gengler said.

Deacon’s Development declined to comment. Representatives from the Hampton Corp. did not immediately return a message left by the Herald.

‘Definitely worth it’

About 85 families live in homes near the property, including Bochenski, his wife and three children. The Bochenskis moved to the south Grand Forks neighborhood several months ago because they wanted to live in a quiet area.

Bochenski played for UND hockey from 2001 to 2004 before joining the NHL. He also played professionally in Kazakhstan.

The Bochenskis and their neighbors opposed the plans for apartment buildings, voicing concerns about increased traffic, potential impacts on property value and a fear the units would be too close to existing homes.

The residents formed a neighborhood group, and they planned to attend a City Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday night during which commissioners were expected to make a preliminary decision on the plans.

The two agenda items regarding the plans also have been withdrawn, Gengler said.

Bochenski wasn’t sure how many people would have attended, but he contacted 70 to 100 people, he said.

The 19 acres that Bochenski plans to buy is part of a nearly 38-acre plot of land that has a taxable value of almost $55,000, according to Grand Forks County records. That amount is not necessarily representative of the market value.

When asked how much he paid for the land, he said, “too much.”

“It’s definitely worth it,” he said.

Bochenski said he hopes to use the land for single-family housing or duplexes, but not apartments.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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