A family joke about living in an RV parked in a pole barn has led a Minnesota contractor to come up with a new housing solution for the Bakken Oil Patch: an indoor RV park.
Chad Lekander of Mahtowa, Minnesota, said he was researching possible business opportunities in North Dakota when he remembered his uncle’s idea to put an RV indoors, The Dickinson Press reports.
Now Lekander has formed B&H Construction Companies with partner Louie Bonneville to construct an RV park about five miles south of Watford City.
The park will consist of 10 buildings to accommodate 240 RVs and will be managed by NETA Property Management of Fargo.
The goal is to provide a safer, more comfortable housing option for oil boom workers who are forced to live in campers because of the housing shortage, said Bill Triebwasser, president NETA Property Management.
“It’s basically care-free RV living,” said Triebwasser, whose company manages 500 apartment units in North Dakota and Minnesota.
The first 48 units will be available July 1, with another 48 opening every month after that, Triebwasser said.
Kenan Bullinger, director of the food and lodging division for the North Dakota Department of Health, said this is the first such project in the state.
“I think it’s a great concept,” Bullinger said.
The developers had to work out some safety issues before the health department approved it, Bullinger said.
The buildings will have drywall partitions inside to prevent fire from spreading. Each building will house 24 campers with each building separated into eight bays.
Each camper will have water and sewer hookups, and the building will have adequate ventilation, Triebwasser said.
The park also will have laundry facilities and a common gathering room.
“We’re trying to provide a healthy, safe environment,” Triebwasser said.
If the project is successful, the partners will look to build indoor RV parks in other areas, Triebwasser said.
Concerns about health and safety of living in RVs year-round have prompted Williston officials to consider banning them from yards, driveways, and other areas within the city that are not part of an RV park.
The developers haven’t finalized the rental price, but say it’s going to be less expensive than an apartment in western North Dakota and comparable to outdoor RV parks in the area. Tenants would have to sign 12-month leases.
“We’re not trying to gouge,” Triebwasser said. “We’re trying to offer something that’s obtainable and make people a little more at ease about the living situation.”
Lekander said he started researching opportunities in North Dakota after hearing about the oil development.
“We live in a very stagnant economy right now,” Lekander said of the Mahtowa area, about 30 miles from Duluth, Minnesota.
He and Bonneville will be living in North Dakota during the construction, and some of their family members will help them during the summer.
They are keeping their homes in Minnesota for now, but are looking to make a long-term commitment to working in North Dakota.
“We’re so excited to be part of this,” Lekander said.
When the buildings are no longer needed to house RVs, they would be ideally suited to be storage units, Triebwasser said.
Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there’s no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done.