Housing development photo

Knife River construction truck driver Justin McCoy looks over the site for the new housing development along Richards Street.

An excavator operator scrapes multiple tons of earth from a large dirt mound before he rotates the machine 180 degrees to sprinkle dirt into a fresh pile. Nearby, a wheeled bulldozer slowly chugs along, compacting smaller mounds of dirt into a semi-level surface.

It may look like dirty cake batter now, but the area will be our city’s next housing development. The city recently started construction on the Platte River Apartments, although the name could change, through Montana-based Blueline Development.

The low-income housing development along Richards Street directly across from the middle school will have 20 units, spread equally between two buildings. The lot in which the development will sit is about 4.23 acres, although the development will only take up about half of that with the current plans.

City council approved the plan Aug. 24 after a housing development study by Community Partners Research Inc. concluded our city needed more income-based housing developments.

Director of Planning and Community Development Clara Chaffin said this speck of land along Richards Street was chosen for the project because it is: 1 - an appropriately-zoned spot of land large enough for the development and easily accessible given Richards Streets high travel rate; 2 - it’s highly visible to citizens; and 3 - it’s across the street from the middle school.

“We like to see any kind of residential (developments) adjacent to schools. So this one happens to be right across from the middle school, and of course, just up the way, is the intermediate school,” she said.

The project is only in its first stage, with Casper-based Knife River Construction doing dirt work, leveling and compacting the ground set to be the base for the buildings’ construction. After that, the buildings’ foundations must be constructed followed by building framework and utility installation.

However, Chaffin said that work on infrastructure needs like electricity, plumbing, water and HVAC systems will be finished sooner rather than later, and the street would be partially closed during this process.

“You might start seeing some of those extensions happening” soon, Chaffin said.

Blueline Development is using Montana-based Oakwood Construction for its general contractor, which is leasing out work to several subcontractors, like Knife River.

Chaffin said the project’s completion date is dependent on the developers and contractors, but she expects it’ll be finished within the next several months, adding that Blueline Development has been “kind of gung ho” during the process.

Blueline Development applied for a year-long building permit, which Chaffin said should be plenty of time for the project to be completed, but they could receive an extension depending on construction delays and hurdles, including weather such as the sub-zero temperatures this week.

“Douglas is growing, so we’re happy to see that somebody wants to come in and do that (development) for us.”

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