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Housing stock increasing, more land opening up for construction in Grand Forks

The number of homes under construction and the available lots for building homes are growing in Grand Forks, according to local officials. New apartments, townhomes and single-family homes constructed this year combined could come in at more than...

The number of homes under construction and the available lots for building homes are growing in Grand Forks, according to local officials.

New apartments, townhomes and single-family homes constructed this year combined could come in at more than 1,500 units, according to City Planner Brad Gengler.

"We've seen a dramatic increase (in construction)," he told a crowd gathered at the Chamber of Commerce office Wednesday in Grand Forks.

Gengler was part of a panel providing an update on the city's tight housing market and progress made in increasing its housing inventory.

The amount of land available for building homes also is expected to grow. More than 200 lots of various sizes should be available for homebuilding in the next year or so, Gengler said.

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The city's lack of housing is likely behind its rising home values. The median home value for Grand Forks has risen by at least $9,000 each of the past two years, according to census data.

While the demand for housing still seems to outweigh supply, the spike in construction is a sign the city's lack of housing is being addressed, according to Barry Wilfahrt, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce

"We've made tremendous progress this year," he said.

Growth

A growth spurt has been seen in the number of apartments built while the construction rate of single-family homes remains steady compared to last year.

Counting apartment projects completed, under construction or under review, 51 new buildings could be popping up around the city. Twelve of those buildings will be in one apartment complex, according to Gengler.

The people who will eventually fill those units may be college students or employees coming into the city because of new jobs, according to Mark Schill, a consultant with Praxis Strategy Group.

The Grand Forks metropolitan area, which includes East Grand Forks, has added 2,300 jobs to its economy in the past two years, according to Praxis.

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"Some may ask 'Where are these people coming from?' or 'Where are they working?'" Schill said.

The answer to the latter question is in the retail, construction, manufacturing, hospitality and healthcare sectors. Retail jobs have seen the largest increase, with 682 jobs added since 2011. Construction, manufacturing, hospitality and healthcare follow at 474, 438, 324 and 278 new jobs respectively.

This employment growth in the region is propelling demand for housing, Schill said.

Online dashboard

All of the housing data discussed by the panel and more is available for viewing on a new housing tool launched through the City of Grand Forks' website.

The city's "Housing Dashboard" will be updated with information focusing on the home market, rental market, housing affordability and city growth indicators such as new construction and workforce and school enrollment numbers.

"Just like a dashboard in a car, this displays key data," said Meredith Richards, community development manager for the city.

She encouraged residents to visit the dashboard and offer suggestions to the city's public information office.

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"We want this to be user-friendly," Richards said.

Call Jewett at (701) 780-1108; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1108; or send email to bjewett@gfherald.com . Follow her on Twitter at @GFCityBeat or on her blog at citystreetbeat.areavoices.com.

On the Web: The housing dashboard is available at http://gfdashboard.weebly.com .

Related Topics: REAL ESTATE
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