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By Caroline Downs
After nearly three years of discussion and negotiations between the City of Berthold and developer Alex Gregg, a preliminary plat for the Prairie Rose Estates project, with lots for 234 mobile homes, received approval from the city council on September 3rd.
Gregg, of North Dakota Development, Inc., has also coordinated plans for the project with Berthold Township, Ward County and North Prairie Rural Water District.
“We’re looking to break ground on Phase I within the next few weeks,” Gregg said. “We’re definitely looking to have homes on the ground before the end of the year.”
The development will be located on the north side of U.S. Highway 2 just east of the city. North Dakota Development, Inc. has purchased 80 acres at the location, with an option to buy the rest of the section as the development moves into the next planned phases.
Right now, however, Gregg is happy to finally get started.
He has a vision, and a developer’s agreement with the city and township, to create a five-star mobile home park as Phase I of the project.
“This will be designed like the ones you see in Arizona or Florida,” he said, “with a gated entry and a club house. We’ve doubled the size of the open space in the park. We want to make this a community where people enjoy themselves when they come home at night.”
As planned, Prairie Rose Estates will offer 234 homes, the majority set up with a three-bedroom, two-bath floor plan, ranging from 1,500 to 2,100 square feet. The lots, sized from 5,200 to 8,000 square feet, will feature detached garages and space for the homes to be side-loaded to offer stronger curb appeal.
The 8.8 acres of open, or green, space will include grills, picnic tables and other amenities for residents’ use, and some of the wetlands will be retained in the development as aesthetic attractions, with walking paths and paved streets tying the neighborhoods together.
Gregg told the Berthold city council that Allied Engineering already started the water study for the development.
He emphasized the improved quality of the manufactured homes to be placed there. “Most people don’t realize that when they walk inside a manufactured home, it looks like any other house,” he said. He added buyers will have the opportunity to make several decisions about the flooring, cabinets, countertops and other items as they choose their homes.
With prices from $140,000 to $170,000, Gregg anticipated a home purchase would be accessible for his target buyers: men and women working hard in western North Dakota to provide for their families.
“For the past three years, I’ve been talking to guys out here working in the oilfield, whose families are not here,” said Gregg. “They’re working so they can buy an affordable home and bring their families to this area.”
He continued, “A lot of home prices have been out of line to service the people that really need them. We’ve got guys who have been here four or five years now, working, saving their money, fixing their credit. I believe we will see a push toward more permanent housing.”
Commercial property and
10-plex apartment planned
Along with the upscale mobile home park, Phase I of Prairie Rose Estates will feature about 13 acres of commercial property. “That will be along Highway 2 in front of the mobile home park,” Gregg said. “Next spring is when you will see some of that commercial land being utilized. I think there’s a strong possibility you will see a grocery store in Berthold.”
A portion of the commercial property will be dedicated to a 10-plex apartment building built for families, with space for a second 10-plex if needed. Gregg said some of the apartments will be designated for municipal and school district employees in need of housing.
“This will be a small apartment complex for the people in law enforcement, teachers, and others like that,” he said, adding his goal was to offer affordable, quality housing in order to attract quality employees for the community.
The Berthold City Council approved a separate building permit requested by Gregg to erect a 3,500-square foot commercial building on the south side of U.S. Highway 2 to use as the operations base and offices for his company, 5-Stone Construction, LLC.
According to Gregg, the single-story building will be stick-built with steel siding, connected to city sewer and North Prairie Rural Water.
sewer and water covered
One key to the success of Prairie Rose Estates is a sewer expansion project still under consideration and design by the Berthold City Council.
The city engineer and another KLJ representative, both of Minot, delivered a preliminary report about the proposed expansion for the city’s sewer collection and treatment systems during the September 3rd city council meeting. However, the council made no decisions about a project and asked city engineer Brice Nelson to provide an assessment and comparison of the long-range operation, efficiency and costs of a lagoon treatment system and a mechanical system.
“It was a smart thing for the city to do,” Gregg said. “They need to consider all their options and do a cost analysis. The sewer [expansion] is important to our development and the city’s needs.”
Gregg will forge ahead with a contingency plan for Phase I even as the city of Berthold works out the sewer project design. “We can lease a portable, mechanical plant that will handle between 30 and 50 homes,” he said, “or, if we have to, we can use a temporary holding tank. We want to work with the city on their sewer expansion plans and make sure the infrastructure is put in the development properly from the beginning.”
According to Gregg, North Dakota Development already has an agreement in place with the North Prairie Rural Water District for water service to Phase I of the development.
“They had capacity available,” he said, “and they did bring a line over to the north side of the highway already. There’s an eight-inch water line on the site now.”
Wants to make
good on promises
Gregg has worked for three years to turn a single shovelful of soil for this development, communicating constantly with the city council, township board, county commissioners, state officials and anyone else who would listen to his vision for the property.
“I’m a little bull-headed,” he said about his willingness to stay with the project, “and I have four kids at home, ages 13, 11, 4 and 2, with one on the way.”
His wife and four children joined him in Minot from Arizona two years ago, and the family relocated to Burlington last year. “We have friends here now, and we’re part of the community now,” he said. “I couldn’t make promises and not try to see them through.”
While waiting to clear the necessary hurdles, Gregg has worked with his company on jobs throughout the state’s western counties. His experiences on construction sites around the region have fueled his desire to see Prairie Rose Estates become a reality.
“I’m out in the field a lot and I meet guys my age all the time,” he said. “They don’t get time to go home and see their families. Berthold is a special place as far as its location, where you can have families living close to a city like Minot and all the things it has, but the husbands can drive out to their worksites.”
He continued, “Berthold could be a major hub. Just in the last two years, look at what’s happened around here.”
Gregg started the Prairie Rose Estates project with one set of partners three years ago. “We’ve found someone different to finish with us,” he said, naming Ray McLeod of Phoenix, AZ, as the general partner.
Attorney Scott Kaisler of San Diego, CA, serves as the project’s controller. “He’s helped us in every aspect of this,” said Gregg.
However, Gregg credits the balance of the progress he’s made to the efforts of the city, township and county officials with whom he has worked.
“They’ve all helped push this project, and we’ve done this in a way to work with everyone involved,” he said. “We’ve met so many people in Berthold and we get attached. I want to see stuff through here because I know people are watching this development.”