Weather Forecast


Tax credits sought for affordable housing projects in Dickinson

Two developers are working with the city of Dickinson to bring affordable housing for nearly all ages to town.

Northern Place Apartments are yet-to-be-built income-restricted dwellings developed by a company that usually rents to single parents. Heritage Hills is an apartment building for age 55-plus, also income-based.

Alex Burkhalter of Missoula, Mont.-based Housing Solutions, developer of Northern Place Apartments, and Daniel Madler of Fargo-based Beyond Shelter Inc., which is planning to build Heritage Hills, came to the Dickinson City Commission during Monday's regular meeting at City Hall to ask for letters of support when applying for federal tax credits, which would benefit construction.

"Any affordable housing that goes after federal tax credits has to have a letter of support from the community in which they will build these structures," City Administrator Shawn Kessel said.

Northern Place will be comprised of 42 two- and three-bedroom units and will be located in Koch Meadow Hills, Burkhalter said. Rents will range between $360 and $850 per month.

"Our typical tenant is usually a single parent with between one and three kids working at an entry-level job," he said. "Usually they've had a tough start but they're trying to put themselves back together."

Because of the way the tax credit works, tenants are often able to save enough to move on to home ownership, Burkhalter said.

"As your income rises, your rent doesn't rise proportionally," he said. "You can stay here if you move beyond the income limit, hopefully offering yourself an opportunity to build up some savings, save up a down payment, (and) establish yourself."

Because the tax credit helps with construction and is not a housing subsidy, this allows tenants to stay put at the rate they first qualified for, even as their income increases, Burkhalter said.

"It puts the owners on the hook," he said. "I have to maintain a desirable property for people to live in, because in year two or three, I'm not getting any checks from anybody other than my rental income."

The building, as planned, is more home-like than some apartments, Burkhalter said.

"I'd really rather not just build another box with a central hall and two exterior doors," he said. "I'd like to do something with character. ... People live there. I don't want a mom of a young family to feel like she's taking her kids to a hotel every day."

The commission unanimously voted to support the project in its tax credit application.

Heritage Hills, the income-based age 55-plus apartment complex, is to be built in southwest Dickinson in the Roers development, Madler said. It is planned for two phases and 81 units when both are complete.

Phase one would consist of 42 apartments. Rents would range from $475 to $695 per month for one- and two-bedroom units.

The project was first pitched to the commission as 36 town homes, he said, but has since evolved to housing for mature adults to make "better use of the land."

"Another excellent project," Commissioner Shirley Dukart said.

Both men asked for a payment in lieu of taxes for their prospective properties, which, upon review of commission precedent, will be reviewed at the Jan. 21 meeting.

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