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Growth in Horace 'exploding'; as homes pop up around new schools, businesses, other amenities have followed

The once quiet bedroom community could hit 5,000 residents by the end of the year. It recently added a pharmacy, and is in line for a Sanford Health medical clinic, a Catholic parish hall, and for lovers of treats, a Dairy Queen.

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Construction continues on the new ReadiTech building in Horace.
David Samson/The Forum
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HORACE, N.D. — Horace, long a sleepy little bedroom community for the Fargo-Moorhead metro area, is booming.

Last year, the town of 4,200 saw nearly 300 building permits taken out for single family homes, and it is on track for something similar this year, City Administrator Brent Holper said.

And the town's list of wants and needs is being steadily checked off.

The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy recently opened next to Vive Salon, and Sanford Health has announced it will open a clinic next year in a strip mall now under construction.

The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has also confirmed that it is building a parish hall there for St. Benedict Catholic Church - a prelude to eventually building a new St. Benedict’s there.

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Exterior view of the new Horace High School.
David Samson/The Forum

The city has two big new schools, Heritage Middle School and Horace High School. And basements are being dug and foundations poured around them by the dozen as developers race to take advantage of those magnets for young families.

To curly top it all off, a Dairy Queen Grill and Chill restaurant should be opening there this fall.

“A lot of those different elements are starting to fall into place, so we’re excited about that. And we’re continuing to get more jobs into our community, which is always good, too,” Holper told The Forum in a recent interview.

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The foundations of the Dairy Queen and a strip mall are under construction in Horace north of the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy and Vive Salon building.
David Samson/The Forum

The most recent announcements are good for body and soul.

Sanford Health confirmed that it plans to open a clinic as part of a new strip mall, The Shoppes at Horace, under construction at 7951 Jack’s Way, just east of Main Street.

“As our community continues to grow south of the Fargo-Moorhead metro, Sanford Health wants to be prepared to meet the future health care needs of our patients. We are excited to announce we are opening a Sanford Clinic in Horace, N.D. in 2023,” Kathryn Norby, the executive director for primary care and behavioral health, told The Forum in an email Monday, June 20.

“No matter where they live, we want people to have easy access to health care. The opening of this clinic is a testament to our commitment to provide our communities and the patients we serve with world-class health care. We will continue to provide updates on the Horace Clinic as they become available,” Norby wrote.

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Heritage Middle School in Horace is seen on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

Meanwhile, the Catholic Diocese of Fargo has plans to build a new parish hall north of 88th Avenue (Wall Street) for St. Benedict’s Catholic Church (which is now in Wild Rice).

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The parish center will host church services until a new church can be built. Diocese spokesman Paul Braun said the historic St. Benedict’s buildng is worn out “and it really is kind of beyond salvage.”

News from Horace
The fast-food favorite known for its soft-serve ice cream, shakes, burgers and fries will likely open in October, an owner said.

Braun said Wednesday, June 22, that groundbreaking for the parish center will be in the next couple of months. A church would follow in a second phase of construction. He said there is also room on the site to possibly build a school.

“That whole area, Horace, West Fargo, is just exploding,” and the church is gearing up to serve the area, Braun said.

Holper can attest to that.

In 2020, Horace issued about 86 permits for single-family homes.

In 2021, there were 283 new homes permitted, 10 twin homes, 8 townhomes, and 12 commercial projects, Holper said.

So far in 2022, “We were trending very similar to last year. We were originally planning 300 to 400 (single-family homes), but I think we will fall closer to numbers like we had last year,” Holper said.

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New home construction booms in the Lost River development in Horace.
Dave Samson / The Forum

Heritage Middle School, opened in fall 2020, and Horace High, opened in fall 2021. They “influence quite a bit” of construction, he said.

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New housing developments are coming online, adding more single-family home inventory - which is selling quickly.

The city’s planning commission is also examining a proposal to build five apartment buildings with 36 units per building, Holper said. There is also more commercial construction.

ReadiTech, an internet and fiber-optic telecommunications firm, has a building nearly completed on Main Street.

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Meadowlark Park is a new amentity in the Lost River development in Horace.
David Samson/The Forum

The city also built a new park in the Lost River development.

Meadowlark Park has “a little of everything. It has a ball field, a concession stand, hockey rink with a warming house, playground, pickleball courts, basketball court, a gazebo, all kinds of different things,” Holper said.

More restaurants and a grocery store would be welcome.

“I’m hoping, still hoping. We’d love to have (a grocery store) here. It just hasn’t come yet. As it has been indicated to me, as we have more rooftops … that will support a store,” Holper said.

“We get calls almost weekly from builders, entrepreneurs. People are wanting to do things and they’re asking questions, figuring out if it will fit,” Holper said.

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The Stone Pointe Plaza, pictured Wednesday, June 15, 2022, features a number of new businesses in Horace, N.D.
David Samson/The Forum

Mayor Kory Peterson said the growth has big pluses - and some minuses - that have to be balanced.

“Definitely the pluses are that you know we have a lot of new people moving to town. It’s nice to see the town growing. You don’t want to have the inverse,” Peterson said Tuesday, June 21.

“I know there are a lot of mayors and a lot of council members in a lot of other cities that wish that they had what we’re having. And I say, yes, but there’s also the other side of it. You have to have the infrastructure that has to keep up with what’s going on. ... We’ve grown explosively over the last six years,” he said.

Planning is a priority.

“Everyone wants their toilets to flush, and everyone wants to turn on their faucets and get water, and they want good roads to drive on. And we need to try and stay ahead of that,” Peterson said.

At the same time, all of that infrastructure needs to be paid for, which stretches the city’s budget.

“It’s just something we have to factor in when you have that kind of growth. It’s almost 24 months at least until you realize any tax revenue from the building” that’s going on. “It will be a little while … before you start seeing any return from that,” Peterson said.

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Work continues in the arts wing at the new Horace High School on Wednesday, June 15, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

On a lighthearted note, he says the start of construction of the Dairy Queen has been a conversation starter.

“That puts you on the map, right? Once you get a DQ, you’re on the map. That’s a big deal. People are really excited about that,” Peterson said. “We might have to have another gym or two around here, because of it.”

In 2017, the city created the Envision Horace project, meeting with area residents to see about the future of the town and what amenities they wanted - what drew them to town, why they liked the city

“In the end, it was the rural feel, the safety, just the feel of community, everybody is really welcoming. That’s what draws people out here,” Peterson said.

But growth has come in leaps. The town’s population could be nearly 5,000 people by the end of this year.

Peterson said everyone wants to hold on to Horace’s small-town feel.

“It’s one of those things, we were a small town for many years, a bedroom community, now we’re kind of slowly moving away from that, but we’re going to try and continue the traditions that Horace has, like Bean Days,” Peterson said. “Just being able to put the (high school) senior’s banners on the light poles to keep the small-town feel. I want to keep on doing that as long as we can.”

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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