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Company eyes South Heart for 200-person crew camp

Press Photo by Betsy Simon Earth movers work in South Heart last week. The small city is growing and a company is interested in building a 200-person crew camp there.

SOUTH HEART -- The city has given the go-ahead for construction of a 200-unit crew camp, but the company interested in the project has yet to find a place to build it.

South Heart City Council members unanimously decided May 9 that Texas-based Ameri-Tech Industries, LLC may build the facility.

"They're trying to buy land now, but I'm not sure how long that will take," Mayor Floyd Hurt said. "A lot has to happen before the crew camp can happen."

Hurt said South Heart has five multi-person trailers that could be considered crew camps, and there might be a need for additional housing that the proposed crew camp could offer.

"Every place you go, you hear about people looking for a place to live and, from what I hear, places are full right away, but I'm not sure when this facility would be ready if it is built," he said.

Councilman Chuck Andrus said Monday the council has not seen final plans, so it isn't likely to be built in the next few months.

Plans have to go before the building engineer and sewer and water issues would also have to be resolved, he said.

Andrus sees a need for more housing options.

"You hear about people living in their cars and that's not right," he said. "I think the public is slowly changing the mind on the need for some man camps because they see the problem with housing, as rental and home prices have been pushed up."

Construction of the Pheasant Run Subdivision near South Heart Golf Course may also help lessen the housing burden, leaders say.

Weflen Inc. Construction out of Spokane, Wash., got underway last week building 39 single-family homes and 14-multi-family dwellings on about 30-acres of land.

The homes will range from 1,100- to 1,500-square-feet.?Costs have not been determined.

Hurt expects about eight single-family homes and a couple of duplexes to be ready by the fall.

"I'm excited for us in South Heart, but I never dreamed there would be a day that we needed to expand like this," he said.

Mike Weflen, one of the owners of Weflen Construction, said progress has been made and they've "started to move dirt."

"We'll eventually start putting in the roads and sewer, so at least some of the units will be ready by the fall," he said.

Hurt fielded about seven calls from perspective buyers and residents.

"A lot of people have come by to see the plans, so it seems like people are interested," Weflen said.

South Heart's population is about 300 people and growing.

Hurt said South Heart experienced growth during the last oil boom, and he feels more permanent housing like the development could keep the momentum.

"Once the boom was over, though, the people living in the trailers left. It was the people who came here and had homes to live in who were the ones who stayed.

"That's a good thing about the units we're building here. It also helps that we're a small community, which people like, and that we're close to Dickinson. There is seldom an empty home in South Heart."