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Housing booms amid infrastructure needs in ND town

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 1, 2014 at 8:11 pm •  Published: August 1, 2014

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) — The dramatic population growth in the oil patch town of Watford City is fueling demand for housing and commercial space, but city officials are concerned that a lack of infrastructure could get in the way of the booming development.

Workers streaming into the area for lucrative oil-industry jobs have pushed the town's population from about 1,750 in the 2010 census to an estimated 8,000 in the area today. But the housing supply hasn't kept up, driving seemingly nonstop construction.

About 2,500 housing units are under construction or permitted to be built in the Watford City area, but the lack of infrastructure "is the roadblock to getting even more built," said Gene Veeder, economic development director in McKenzie County, the state's top oil-producing county.

"Right now, most of the infrastructure has been on the backs of the developers themselves, which adds to the cost of that housing," he said. "We are sorely in need of additional water and sewer and urban gutter type projects, but we are continuing to fight for some share of state funding to help us with that."

One recent project in Watford City by New York-based Coltown Properties involves residential and commercial developments worth at least $65 million. Company principal Israel Weinberger said he expects three apartment buildings to be ready for occupancy this fall, with the end goal being 325 apartments in seven buildings. Retail and office space should be ready by late 2015 or early 2016.

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