HORACE, N.D. - EPIC Companies is ready to give this farm town turned bedroom community a new town center.
The West Fargo-based developer plans to start construction this spring on the Greeley Center at 434 Main St. N. (the east side of County Road 17 just north of Casey’s General Store).
The Greeley Center will start with one four-story, mixed-use building, worth about $9.24 million (with land costs included). The building will have 32 rental apartments plus 14,231 square feet of leasable commercial space.
A plaza in front of the building facing Main will also be part of the initial construction, City Administrator Brent Holper said Tuesday, Feb. 18. The plaza is envisioned as a gathering and events space for the town of 3,000.
Depending on how quickly that building fills, a second building of the same size and make-up will be built on the south side of the site to complete the project
It took about a year of back and forth between the City Council and EPIC before the council signed off on the plan, Holper said.
“We went through quite a few different revisions. This is the version that stuck,” Holper said. “I think a lot of folks are excited about it. I know one of the things the council is excited about is the plaza component, because it gives us a community space that” the city doesn't have now.
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For the first phase of the project, an initial estimate puts the tax incentives for EPIC at $129,594 a year over five years. The tax incentives would begin in 2022 and end in 2027, according to an application for a payment in lieu of taxes.
The final amount of the tax incentives will be determined either at the council’s March 2 or March 16 meetings, Holper said.
Horace is also expected to collect $90,000 to $100,000 in sales taxes for construction materials on the project. That money could go toward the city’s share of plaza costs, or to other projects in the city, Holper said.
The tax incentives will be well worth it to get needed rental housing and commercial space in the town, particularly since the land is unused now, Holper said.
Groundbreaking on the first phase will be this spring, with construction taking about 14 months, EPIC spokeswoman McKenzy Olson said.
City Council member Chelsey Johnson said the project will be good for Horace.
“I personally am pretty excited,” Johnson said Wednesday, Feb. 19. “We don’t really have much for apartments out here. … That type of housing out here is going to fill up quick."
Johnson said retail and food options are also very limited.
“We have one restaurant, (and) a gas station. Some other food options would be welcome and just some other amenities to keep us closer to home would be valued by the community.”
The location will also be a good way to welcome people to Horace, she said.
“It’s kind of a gateway into our Main Street. It’s kind of a start into a new direction for Horace,” Johnson said.
The city is “on the brink” of big changes, she added.
The West Fargo School District is expected to open Heritage Middle School on the north side of Horace this fall, and bids were recently approved for construction of West Fargo Horace High School, expected to open in fall 2021.
The growth is “really going to kind of change the landscape out here,” Johnson said. “We want to embrace it and get the best outcome we can with this growth. We don’t want to fight it. We want to embrace it as best we can.”
Olson said the project has been “kind of new territory” for Horace officials to work through, and it is being built in a smaller town than cities EPIC has typically done its projects, such as Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo, Minot or Jamestown.
“The opportunity came up and we thought it was a growing community that could use some additional housing with the new high school and middle school down there. So it’s another option for different income levels, different people, to be able to live in that area," Olson said.
Olson said EPIC has been in talks with commercial tenants, but did not know if any had been secured yet.
Community Development Director Barrett Voigt said the full project will have a combined total of 195 underground and surface parking stalls.
Holper said there is an unmet demand for restaurants and businesses to provide amenities for the growing city.
Demographic estimates put Horace’s population at 5,000 or 6,000 people in the next four to five years, Holper said.
The city has several housing developments proposed, started or getting new additions, including a housing development just east of the EPIC project.
In 2018, about 40 homes were built, jumping to 75 homes in 2019, Holper said. This year, 120 to 150 new homes could be built.
“It could be more. It just depends on when developments come on line,” Holper said.
“We have a lot of single family lots that are either on the market or coming on the market shortly. Those new residents are going to be wanting some amenities,” Johnson said.
Holper said the mixed-use concept of the Greeley Center should plug some needs for apartment housing and commercial space, noting that Big Erv’s Bar & Grill and Casey’s are the only options for food in the town.
“It opens the door for more opportunities as the community grows,” Holper said. “We’re excited about the opportunity with EPIC.”