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Bowman County closer to purchasing apartments

After witnessing the housing shortages and rent increases in other western North Dakota communities, Bowman County is attempting to get ahead of the game.

Members of Bowman County Commission reviewed a purchase order agreement Thursday during a regular meeting in Bowman that moves the county another step closer to obtaining the Jesco Apartments from a private interest for close to $500,000.

Located in the Bowman, the apartments offer subsidized low-income family housing, something that Bowman County Commissioner Bill Bowman says could have been put in jeopardy.

"We've all seen some of the housing issues that other cities have been dealing with recently," Bowman said. "This is a way to get out in front of some of those issues. By purchasing these units, the county is assuring itself that the Jesco Apartments remain affordable in the future."

Bowman said the current apartment complex owners were looking to get out of the business, allowing the county to step in.

"This is something we've been looking at for a long time," Bowman said. "We hear things about oil activity picking up in our area in the next few years and, if that happens, we want to have affordable housing. We've seen people in other communities who have to move away because rents are too high and this is a safeguard for that type of thing."

The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources has indicated that drilling in the Tyler Formation, which is sometimes referred to as the "Baby Bakken," is likely to increase in the next several years. If that happens, Bowman County could see an influx of people similar to what western North Dakota cities like Williston, Killdeer, Dickinson and Watford City have experience.

The purchase price on documents reviewed Thursday was $475,000. Bowman said a fund for repairs and maintenance and other costs would raise the county's costs to more than $500,000. The county has already put $50,000 down for the purchase.

"This is something that will be good for the community for years to come," Bowman said. "We've signed an agreement for the deal and we believe the county got a good price."

Also at Thursday's meeting, preliminary discussions took place about a possible new recreation center complex that would be an add-on to the old Bowman County High School gymnasium. The project would likely cost several million dollars and would need to be funded by a variety of sources, Bowman said.

Bryan Horwath
A Wisconsin native, Horwath has been covering news in the Oil Patch of North Dakota since 2012. Horwath currently serves as the senior agriculture and political reporter for The Dickinson Press and, despite the team's tendency to always let him down, remains a diehard Minnesota Vikings fan.
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