Lewis & Clark Development Group recently closed on the purchase of the former Ruth Meiers Hospitality House in Bismarck. The organization will now oversee an estimated $16.5 million transformation of the one-time nursing facility and transitional living center into a new 120-unit affordable housing complex.
Affordable housing is a primary area of focus for LCD Group through CommunityWorks North Dakota (CWND), which is part of the organization and a member of theNeighborWorks America® network.
In many ways, the Ruth Meiers property provided LCD Group with a chance to marry this focus with the opportunity to meet a pressing need in the region.
“The Ruth Meiers property is ideal and the need for affordable housing has never been greater in the Bismarck-Mandan area,” says LCD Group Executive Director Brent Ekstrom.
“As a member of the NeighborWorks America network, we are the only organization that could assemble all the players, put the financing package together, and make the project a go. So we did and we are.”
Bismarck market is “rent overburdened”
market study conducted for the project found the Bismarck market area is comprised of 45 percent renter households with a current vacancy rate of less than one percent. Demand for multi-family rental units is expected to come from normal turnover, population increases, high employment, and a limited supply of affordable properties in the area.
According to the study, the number of households in the Bismarck market area will increase through 2024 and so will rental prices, thereby increasing the need for affordable housing units.
“Our analysis found 29 percent of rental households in Bismarck are paying more than 35 percent of their monthly income in housing costs. By market definitions, the Bismarck area is rent overburdened,” adds Ekstrom who acknowledges there are many misconceptions about people who qualify for and need affordable housing.
“Around 56 percent of the Bismarck-Mandan economy is reliant on service and retail occupations. Many of the people who work in these sectors have wages that fit into the qualifying income ranges for this project,” Ekstrom says. “We are talking about people of all ages from the young who have just joined the workforce to seniors who are on fixed incomes.”
Keeping with LCD Group’s Mission
LCD Group plans to enhance the complex’s aesthetic presence. Proposed designs call for additional green space and incorporating public art, which will make the property a gateway into the surrounding neighborhood.
This project is in keeping with LCD Group’s coremission to provide affordable housingand development opportunities across North Dakota. As the state’s only NeighborWorks America® chartered organization, LCD Group a is dedicated to revitalizing and improving the quality of life for communities.
“CommunityWorks was created back in 1995 as part of the Lewis and Clark Development Group for the very purpose of providing affordable housing solutions to communities across North Dakota,” said Ekstrom. “This is what we do and we do it well.”