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Growing Dickinson: As infrastructure projects catch up, retail centers in Dickinson grow

Construction on the new Anytime Fitness building, called Plaza 619, was underway Tuesday at the site near Prairie Hills Mall in Dickinson.

It's becoming clear that 2014 could be a big year for retail and commercial developments in Dickinson.

As many as five new retail and commerce areas are in the works, with some nearly complete.

"It's all about the people," said Stark Development Corp. executive director Gaylon Baker. "The people just simply have the can-do attitude that we're going to make this into the town that we've always wanted."

Construction on Menards in the West Ridge development is well underway off Interstate 94 Exit 59. Near Prairie Hills Mall, Plaza 619 -- the new Anytime Fitness building -- is near completion and Oliver Commons' broker Neil Messer hopes the weather holds out so crews can get foundations in before the ground freezes on the project west of the Ramada Grand Dakota Lodge.

"If we could get some foundations in this fall, then it would be early spring we could be up and running," Messer said.

Pinecrest, the Meyer Real Estate Group project, and Dickinson Town Center, the Five Diamond development, are trying to have their final plats done before the end of 2013. Both developments are along 30th Avenue West, with Dickinson Town Center south of the interstate's Exit 59 and Pinecrest north of West Ridge.

Roers began pushing dirt at the West Ridge site in 2012. Three apartment buildings are occupied, one of two hotels is open and Menards has it's four walls in place.

Some development was delayed because the city was at capacity with its existing infrastructure, as City Administrator Shawn Kessel told the Planning and Zoning Commission in June.

Much of the delay on the west side of Dickinson was due to the need for infrastructure and services in that area, Community Development Director Ed Courton said.

"Fortunately for the city, now we have our Capital Improvement Plan and how we're going to fund those," Courton said. "In the next year or two, the vast majority of our infrastructure issues should be resolved."

Once the city is on track with its infrastructure projects, the city can grow and infill can happen, as with the Oliver Commons and Plaza 619 projects, Courton said.

"The infill has been the focus over the last year instead of expanding our boundaries," Courton said.

Anytime Fitness hopes to be moved into its new building by the second week of December, said project manager Jeremy Walker of Bismarck-based Consolidated Construction.

There are five other tenant spaces in the building, none of which have been officially filled. Consolidated is in talks with potential occupants and hopes to have businesses in there shortly after the new year.

Cash Wise Food and Cash Wise Liquor, JoAnn Fabric, Petco and Dollar Tree were all announced by developer Ron Raddon of Utah in September as the first phase of the Dickinson Town Center development.

Twin Cities-based Oppidan Investment Company submitted plans for the development to the city recently, Courton said. There are restaurants, hotels, apartments and a movie theater planned for the retail center.

Some permits may be applied for but never built, Courton said. Because of an engineering backlog, the number of voided permits have yet to be updated. But he said that is rare in this economic climate.

Before hiring KLJ at the beginning of October, the city was lacking an engineering staff.

William Watson was let go at the end of September and Nathan Peck had left during the summer. The city's backlog grew even more during the two weeks it was without engineers.

"The developer may not get the financing, the project may change; there are various reasons why they may not come about and activate that permit," Courton said.

Dickinson's commerce growth comes on the heels of the announcement that, through the first half of the year, it had the highest year-to-date permit values of any North Dakota city, according to data collected by the North Dakota Association of Builders.

In that same timeframe in 2012, Dickinson was second to Williston with Minot coming in third. Williston is second in the first half of 2013, and Fargo ranks third.

Stark Development Corp. has been working over the past few years to help make sure Dickinson and Stark County's economy isn't solely dependent on the oil and gas industry by attracting other industries to the area, Baker said.

"We've recognized what the particular needs are of our community and we've adjusted our incentive programs to initiate apartment construction, because we knew we were short on workforce housing, and then to modify that to got to affordable housing construction because we realized we were short on the housing that people beyond the oil field can afford," Baker said.

This year has been the reverse of previous years, with the majority of the permit value coming from commercial and public structures rather than residential, Courton said.

There were about half the individual permits issued by the end of September this year as there were on the same day in 2012. Values, however, were $45 million higher in 2013 than 2012.

"That can be attributed to all kinds of factors," Courton said. "The cost of lots that people are purchasing to build, the weather that we've had in the spring and the fall, the constraints that the city has had in respect to infrastructure -- sewer, water, roads."

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206