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City seeking developers interested in affordable housing

Efforts to bring more affordable housing to Minot through the National Disaster Resilience Program took another step forward with the support of the Minot City Council’s Finance and Improvements Committee Tuesday.

The committee voted to recommend the council call for proposals for multi-family rental housing and contract with an engineering firm for design and construction services for affordable single-family resilient neighborhoods.

Cindy Hemphill, acting resilience program manager, said the goal with the single-family housing is to find developers willing to commit lots in already planned developments.

“We are trying to identify tracts of land – for instance, developments in Minot that have started and have basically failed – and trying to do some infill in those areas,” she said.

The resilience program ties the affordable housing to “resilient neighborhoods.” Hemphill said existing neighborhoods may not qualify under the resilience program, particularly if just adding a house to a block, because of the need to design a neighborhood with amenities considered resilience features.

The committee is recommending the city contract with EAPC for design and construction services for the single-family neighborhoods. EAPC was named as a partner in the National Disaster Resilience Competition application. Approval of the application by the Department of Housing and Urban Development enables the city to award the engineering contract to EAPC without having to issue a request for proposals. EAPC will use services of students in the College of Architecture at North Dakota State University, also a partner in the grant process.

In addition, the city is looking for existing rental housing to be rehabilitated through the affordable multi-family housing portion of the resilience program.

The city council already has awarded $1.85 million to rehabilitate the existing 35-unit Park South Apartments and add five more units. Thirty of the units must be offered at affordable rents for 30 years and four units will be handicapped accessible.

The committee is recommending the council put out a request for proposals for affordable multi-family rental housing. The city will review the applications to determine grant awards. Construction would need to start by October.

HUD approved $34 million to go toward affordable housing in Minot’s National Disaster Resilience Program. Of that amount, about $21 million is available for multi-family housing.

The committee also is recommending the city contract with CDM Smith for administration of the resilience program. CDM Smith has been providing services, but the city was required under HUD policies to re-advertise at this time. CDM Smith submitted the only proposal addressing the full scope of services. Ackerman Estvold submitted a proposal that covered delivery services on only three program projects.

Separately, the committee is advising approval of an agreement with the North Dakota State Historic Preservation Officer to relocate Home Sweet Home, a historic property, to make way for the flood protection project. Without the agreement, the state could require the city to leave the house at 103 4th Ave. NE, forcing the city to re-engineer flood protection in that area. The city also continues to negotiate price with the business owners.

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