East Grand Forks soon will have seven new housing units in its south end after a developer purchased lots in the city’s southern reaches — part of what local officials say is slow but consistent housing growth on Greater Grand Forks’ east side.
Paul Gorte, the city’s economic development director, said the homes are set to be built by Robertson Construction, with land sold by the city in a program that offers up publicly owned land from the wake of the 1997 flood. Gorte said he was not immediately aware of the history of this particular set of properties, but noted they were sold as five plots for $163,800, and subsequently broken into seven properties.
The land, near the corner of 17th Avenue Southeast and 13th Street Southeast, will host two duplexes and a triplex. Nancy Ellis, East Grand Forks’ city planner, said the building permits for both duplexes were issued on Nov. 7, with a permit for the triplex yet to be issued.
Ellis added that the city has seen growth slow after the flood, but that the city’s south end has been where many new homes are going, noting local schools that likely draw residents.
“Growth has been fairly limited to existing platted lots right now. There’s not really a lot of new development going on right now,” she said. “The developer that’s developing these is building townhomes, but typically we see single-family homes being built. There’s really no rhyme or reason or pattern at this time (to city development.)”
That development, though, is closely watched by local leaders, who are constantly thinking ahead for both Grand Forks and East Grand Forks’ transit and planning needs. One of the largest items for both cities is the future of a new Red River bridge — and while Grand Forks city leaders have weighed a crossing at 47th Avenue South, East Grand Forks leaders simply don’t have a city that extends so far south, leading to competing visions for the future of local transit.
“Most of our new single-family homes being built on the south end. It seems to be more so on the south end than on the north end, and I would attribute that probably to the schools,” Ellis said. “At some point we’re going to bottleneck on the south end, so it would always be helpful to have a south-end bridge. Where that is? Would it be useful if it was on 47th (Avenue South)? I don’t know.”
The city toggled its policies on these types of lots recently, which staff have previously said sell at a rate of about 10 each year. While it used to apply a $3,000 Realtor surcharge to the lots, the policy has since come to be seen as an unnecessary addition to the price of the land, and was eliminated by the City Council on Nov. 5.