Annabelle Homes plans 114 unit development on Kenmare's east edge
Posted 5/31/11 (Tue)
Construction could begin this summer
By Caroline Downs
Work could begin as early as July 7th on a new housing project in Kenmare, with plans by Minnesota-based Annabelle Homes to build up to 82 single-family homes and 32 townhouses.
Annabelle Homes is developing a similar project in Stanley, where ground has been broken on the first phase of new houses. Developments are under consideration in Crosby and Columbus, too.
The Kenmare Planning and Zoning Commission heard the proposal May 25th. Dean Dovolis, principal and CEO of DJR Architecture in Minneapolis, described the project as slated for approximately 80 acres purchased from Jim Jorgenson on the east side of U.S. Highway 52 across from Kenmare High School and Creative Industries.
The property is adjacent to the site recently purchased by Gooseneck Implement to build a new facility, as well as tracts owned by Ernie Lehman, Jim Wink and the North Dakota State Highway Department.
“This is not a man camp,” Dovolis emphasized. “We’re seeing a desire for family housing here. People want to call this home.”
In addition to the residences, the development calls for a park with a retention pond that can double as a skating rink in the winter, an American Legion baseball field, storage units, and three commercial buildings, one of which will be a bank.
Dovolis said he’d been hearing from businesses interested in locating in the commercial buildings, but had no firm commitments yet, although a Subway and a Dairy Queen are reported to be moving into the commercial space available at Stanley. One of the buildings at Kenmare will likely house a convenience store.
Annabelle Homes will retain ownership of the commercial property and rent to the space to the businesses.
The houses and townhomes, however, will be for sale. According to Dovolis, the townhomes will be available in both one- and two-story models, with attached garages, and selling in the $110,000 range. He indicated the appeal of this multi-unit housing to such buyers as teachers, law enforcement officers, and new residents arriving in town.
The single family homes will be presold through Annabelle Homes, with buyers choosing from among a variety of one- and two-story floor plans, ranging from 1,228 to 2,377 square feet, all with attached garages. The relatively high water table in the area may prevent basement construction.
Dovolis expects prices for the single-family homes to vary from $190,000 to $225,000, depending on the model selected. Those costs may be reduced through oil impact funds from the state of North Dakota. Annabelle Homes is preparing an application for those funds now.
The baseball field involves a land swap that will allow a few houses to be constructed on the site of the current Legion field, immediately west of U.S. Highway 52 and south of Sixth Street. Dovolis has been talking with members of the Kenmare Recreation Board about the new field and creating a safe way for kids to cross U.S. 52 to get to the field, probably with an overpass.
Annabelle Homes plans to construct a walking trail around the perimeter of the development that will tie into the trail system being established in Kenmare.
Expenses for the trail, as well as water, sewer, pavement, curb and gutter, streetlights and other infrastructure, will be paid by the developer.
Dovolis said he would like to see 20 homes sold before beginning the first phase of the project. That phase would include the homes, the first commercial building and most likely the baseball field. The second phase would include another set of homes and a second commercial building, and so on.
“That [plan] varies, though,” he said. “In Stanley, it’s going to be built all at once because everything is sold out.”
Annabelle Homes expects the entire Kenmare project to be completed within two years, depending on how soon the builders can start.
Annabelle will finance
While the development provides benefits to the city, Annabelle Homes helps the homebuyers, too. “We’ll be doing the financing on the houses and we’ll be doing the underwriting with the homeowners,” Dovolis said. “From our Stanley experience, most of the buyers want two stories, so we’re adding more two-story options to the package. Most buyers are coming from out of state, and most can afford a $1500 per month mortgage payment.”
He described the process for potential buyers, starting with getting their names on the list for homes in Kenmare. “We work with them on their financial situation,” he said, adding that some individuals with jobs in North Dakota’s oilfield had moved here from parts of the country hit hard by economic recessions. “We work on credit repair so they can afford a house. We provide 100 percent financing. People have been very appreciative of that.”
He continued, “This will be a very desirable neighborhood to people working in northwestern North Dakota who want to call Kenmare ‘home.’ You have a good, quality community here, and you’ve kept it intact.”
Planning and Zoning Commission member Duane Sandberg asked about the quality of the houses that would be built. Dovolis explained the houses would be panelized construction with an R25 insulation factor. “These have things like a granite island in the kitchen, 92 percent efficiency furnaces, quality carpet, all the appliances,” he said. Propane heat will be used.
Annabelle Homes will provide the crews needed for the project. Mark Domino, senior project manager with Bundled Building Solutions, Inc. of Scottsdale, AZ, and contractor for the Kenmare project, said two or three two-story homes would be built first to house those crews. “That way, you don’t have trailer houses out there,” he said.
A storage facility for building supplies will also be constructed.
When the project is completed, the homes will be remodeled and sold as single-family houses and the storage building may be converted into storage units that can be rented.
Commission member Alan Munson asked if Annabelle Homes had discussed the project with the Kenmare School Board yet. Dovolis said the group started with the city officials, for annexation and rezoning requests.
He plans to communicate with school district administrators as well. For the Stanley project, Annabelle Homes maintained a list of ages and grades of the children whose families were purchasing homes. “Then we turned that over to the school so they know what’s coming,” he said. “We’ll create that list for Kenmare so they will have a profile, too.”
Dovolis and Domino both expressed concerns over the short building season in this region and laughed about the blizzard of April 30th and May 1st that halted operations in Stanley for a few days. Kenmare mayor Roger Ness, city engineer Ryan Ackerman and city auditor Ralph Hoversten reviewed calendar dates and determined the first reading for annexation could take place at the June 13th city council meeting, followed in due time by a rezoning meeting and then a special city council meeting on July 6th for the second reading of the annexation.
“So we could be pushing dirt on July 7th,” Domino said.
“In this season, every day is gold,” Dovolis added.
The two men were pleased with the atmosphere of Kenmare. “You still have what is very much a family community,” Dovolis said. “The town is still intact, with its town square and lots of amenities. This development fits nicely with the infrastructure that’s here.”
He ticked off a list of qualities that should appeal to families moving to the region, including the setting next to the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge, the distinctive downtown area, the strong schools, a wide variety of services, and the sense of community. “You have a few houses for sale in town, but there’s really no inventory for housing,” he said. “Maybe you’re not in the heart of the oil [development], but you’re still close enough that people don’t mind a 20-mile drive to go home.”
“The atmosphere of this place is huge,” Domino said. “It’s great to be a part of it.”
He and Dovolis started working on the Kenmare project about three months ago, meeting with business leaders in the community to locate property available for the development. Dovolis would like to see the Stanley, Kenmare, Crosby and Columbus projects all move forward together. “That will keep the crews working continuously, which means better efficiency,” he said.
It’s what Kenmare
has been waiting for
As mayor, Ness was happy to see interest in the community from Annabelle Homes, especially as the demand for homes in Kenmare continues to rise. “They are first class, well-organized and funded,” he said. “It’s what we’ve been waiting for and looking for.”
The city is reviewing two or three options for providing water and sewer to the site, as well as to the new Gooseneck Implement location. “It’s nice to be able to do these at the same time,” Ness said. “We’re trying to put a package together with both. We may run the water and sewer north of the existing landfill, but we’re still doing the study on that.”
The addition of up to 114 residences should pose no problem for the city’s current lagoon capacity. “We don’t feel this will put a major strain on anything,” said Ness. “With different methods of treatment, we are confident we can handle the increase.”
He noted that current residents of Kenmare were not expected to fund infrastructure for the proposed development. “There are no special [assessments] in the plan,” he said. “No taxpayer’s money will be at risk out there. We want to make sure everyone isn’t paying for someone else’s development.”
Annexation hearing June 6
The Planning and Zoning Commission took no action Wednesday night. Ness explained to the developers that the city was working on issues related to the project, including the provision of water lines to the development site. However, the tract in question is currently served by the Upper Souris Water District.
“Right now, that area gets rural water,” said Ness, “but we’re currently in negotiations with them. They’re not capable of providing enough water for fire protection, so we’re looking at some different options.”
He was optimistic about reaching an agreement with the USWD board. “Everyone wants this to happen as fast as it can,” he said, “but we want to do it right, too.”
The first annexation hearing will take place Monday, June 6th, at the regular Kenmare city council meeting. Pending action at that meeting, the Planning and Zoning Commission will meet again to consider a rezoning request for the land in question. Meeting dates and times will be posted in The Kenmare News.
More information about the Annabelle Homes project in Kenmare, including residential floor plans for the single-family homes, can be seen online at www.annahom.com.
Dovolis was open about his enthusiasm for the Kenmare project. “There’s a willingness [in northwestern North Dakota] to invest and create like no other part of the country has right now,” he said. “The communities we’re looking at have embraced us. That’s very refreshing!”