Within a few days of opening, a 20-unit apartment complex in New Town, funded by MHA Nation oil income, was filled with pre-screened applicants. Now, the community is looking to other nearby areas, including the newly-opened truck by-pass around the city, for more potential housing opportunities.
Wooden Bowl II is the second apartment complex in New Town built by the North Segment Community Development Corporation. Ken Hall, the MHA Nation Tribal Business Council Representative serving the New Town area, says he was more than pleased with the new complex. “Anytime you can come in under budget and ahead of schedule, you know things are going pretty well,” Hall said.
The Wooden Bowl apartments relieve a bit of the housing crunch for enrolled members of the MHA Nation who live on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. Applicants are screened before they become renters. Eligible renters pay reduced prices for the apartments. There are ten one-bedroom apartments renting for $630 a month; six two-bedroom apartments rent for $700; and four three-bedroom apartments are $796.
Oil production on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation accounts for one-third of the state’s daily output. The money the MHA Nation receives from production is reinvested in the five segments on the Reservation, including the North Segment which includes New Town. The new highway routes will open more opportunities for retail, light commercial and residential developments in the next two years.
Hall said there are three other areas where more housing can be built from oil money the MHA Nation collects and then distributes to the five local segments of the Reservation. An area overlooking the east end of the Four Bears Bridge south of Highway 23 called Hidatsa Hills is in the planning stages. Another possible housing development is at the rural housing region east of New Town, next to Lake Sakakawea called Van Hook.
The Highway 23 truck bypass route is that opened this week directs traffic around the city on the east and north sides of New Town. The North Dakota Department of Transportation says the $25-million truck-reliever route will re-direct about 3,500 trucks that travel through the city every day. With the new route comes a third region that could present itself as a potential housing development. A 221-acre area near where the bypass connects with Highway 1804 could be developed to offer a variety of housing options including apartments and possibly an upscale mobile home park.
Thomas Hale of the North Segment Community Development Corporation said the by-pass will usher in new opportunities for New Town’s Main Street. Hale owns a restaurant on Main Street, and he said he is looking forward to changes planned for downtown New Town. “Main Street will be torn up. The driving surface, berms, frontage roads and sidewalks will be replaced,” he said.
The North Dakota DOT said the reconstruction of Main Street is in the design phase and a February bid opening is planned. Also in the discussion stage is a potential by-pass to the west of New Town extending from Highway 1804 north of New Town toward the New Town Marina and back to Highway 23.