College complex offers housing

WILLISTON A new 74-unit apartment complex for Williston State College faculty and staff and project partner employees will open for occupancy Aug. 1 on the college campus. In additon, there will be 7,500 square feet of retail space on the first floor of the building. Occupancy in the retail units is still being determined.

The project is a venture of the Williston State College Foundation, which received some of its funding $1 million from the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund, a fund which provides low-cost financing to developers of affordable multi-family housing. Investments in the $8.5 million project came from the foundation and its partners Bethel Lutheran Foundation, Williston State College and a loan from partner American State Bank and Trust. The North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund, administered by the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency, provides low-cost financing to developers of affordable multi-family housing. About $1 million from that fund was directed towads the Williston State College apartment building. Gate City Bank was another large contributor.

“It may seem a bit unorthodox (housing for employees and not students), but there was a need and we had to try and meet it,” said Terry Olson, executive director of the Williston State College Foundation, in a press release. “Being able to recruit and retain a workforce is vital to our community growth and well-being; making housing available and affordable is one way to do that.”

Rent on the one- to three-bedroom apartments will range from $1,100 to $1,500, with studio apartments renting for $700.

“That’s so cheap,” said Liza McLean, who works at the Williston State College Foundation. McLean said she pays $2,000 per month for a one-bedroom in Williston and was required to put down the first and last month’s rent along with a security deposit, adding up to $6,000 before she could even move into her apartment.

“Welcome to Williston,” said McLean.

According to a press release issued by the college, finding quality, affordable housing in Williston is a bit like winning the lottery.

“When I first moved to Williston, I knew housing here was sparse. I tried to purchase a house a few different times, but the market in Williston is challenging for a young professional,” said Leah Windnagle, director for enrollment services at the college, in the press release. “I was fortunate to have Williston State offer me housing. Without it, I don’t think I could have stayed.”

The housing offered to Windnagle was meant to be short-term until she could find another place to stay. Now she has the option of living in the new apartment building on the campus.

According to the press release, each of the apartment units features granite counter tops, maple doors and cabinets, washer and dryer and a balcony. There is also underground parking and a variety of styles in units from studio to three-bedroom apartments. Small pets are also allowed in the apartments. Renters will be faculty and staff at the college and employees from other groups that were partners in putting up the apartment complex, including, among others, including Bethel Lutheran, the Department of Transportation, N.D. Game and Fish, the N.D. Highway Patrol, Fort Union National Historic Site and Fort Buford State Historic Site and the City of Williston.

McLean said the apartment, because it is located on campus and near the new recreation center on campus, will function like a small community. The businesses that will be located on the ground floor will also add to the ambience.

“I can’t wait to move in,” said Kaylyn Bondy, Williston State College registrar and director for effectiveness, in the press release. “I’ve done a lot of traveling and this is the kind of living arrangement you usually see in bigger cities housing on top, businesses on bottom. It really makes for a fun living and working atmosphere.”