Dakota Ridge Apartments

WILLISTON, ND—Thousands of oil and natural gas workers have poured into the little towns and cities of western North Dakota over the past few years, straining housing resources to the breaking point. But the opportunities created by this state’s energy boom have not gone unnoticed.

Granite Peak Partners, a Santa Barbara, CA-based real estate investment firm, just became the latest group to take advantage of the sudden growth by breaking ground on Dakota Ridge Apartments, a $68 million, 300-unit apartment community near Williston, ND. They will complete the first phase, consisting of 180, two and-three-bedroom apartments, in May 2014. This first phase will include six apartment buildings, a clubhouse and other infrastructure.

Geologists tout this region, known as the Bakken, as the next Saudi Arabia. The United States Geological Survey estimated on April 30 that the region had 7.4 billion barrels of oil recoverable through hydraulic fracturing of the underground shale formations, a 27-year supply at the current rate of production, and about double what the agency estimated in 2008. Four thousand wells have already been drilled and as the hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” technology improves, the amount of recoverable oil will increase even more.  

And although the 2010 Census tagged the population of Williston as 14,716, BusinessInsider.com estimated that it may have ballooned up to nearly 30,000.

Many builders in Williston and the surrounding area have concentrated on putting up temporary housing. But when Granite finishes their community, it will have ten, three-story apartment buildings with 30 units each. The 4,500-square-foot clubhouse will feature a fitness center, game room, lounge area, kitchen and community room, a business center and a spa room. The 35.5-acre site will include an outdoor sports court, covered barbeque areas and hiking paths.

“One of the goals of the project is to create a quality living environment for families,” says Pierre Tada, a principal with Granite. “Most new housing construction in the area resembles workforce housing and aren’t appropriate for families. The Bakken is an extremely important resource that will create jobs and help America become energy independent. We’re excited about being able to make available much needed family-friendly housing to the companies and their employers who are making this happen.”

Tada hopes the project will begin to relieve the housing shortage. “The local population has more than doubled in five years as workers are drawn to the area to fill high paying oil industry jobs,” adds Tada. “The population is expected to double again over the next five years. Already, housing occupancy is nearly 100 percent.”