Homark home will be placed in Carman View Estates later this year

    As part of the new “Northwest Minnesota Housing Consortium,” Crookston and other area communities are collaborating to have Homark homes built and placed on residential lots in their towns.

    In Crookston, the Homark modular home will be placed, yet this year, on a cement foundation in Kevin Ross’ Carman View Estates residential subdivision, as the City of Crookston continues to work with Ross on multiple fronts in the hope of spurring interest in available lots in his south-end development. The city council earlier this summer agreed to, at Ross’ request, pave the gravel portion of Fifth Avenue South that leads to some of the Carman View Estates lots, and that project is currently underway.

    Homark homes will also be placed in Warren and Red Lake Falls. Another consortium member, East Grand Forks, is not participating in the initiative this year, CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth said, because city leaders there say they don’t have a suitable lot available at this juncture.

    The CHEDA Board of Directors on Tuesday signed off on the initiative, which has roots dating back to all of the involved communities teaming up to be involved in an update of a comprehensive housing study that compiled data in each of their communities. Each community also participated in a Minnesota Housing Partnership Housing institute in 2017. As part of that institute, each participating city agreed to commit to an 18-month program and was tasked with taking on a project within that time frame. The initiative involving the Red Lake Falls-based Homark Homes is that project.

    Each of the three communities participating this year will get a Homark home priced in the $185,000 range that will feature three bedrooms, two bathrooms on a cement slab with a 36-inch crawl space (for drainage), a two-vehicle garage, and black dirt and seeded grass for landscaping. Hoiseth said a critical component of the initiative is making the home affordable, and the thinking is that any price tag in excess of $200,000 might be deemed too step by the target market. The Homark home in Crookston will be marketed immediately, before it is brought to Crookston in two pieces, Hoiseth explained, in the hope of pre-selling it. The Homark modular home being built for Warren has already sold, he noted.

    The initial goal as far as a price-point was closer to $170,000, Hoiseth said, but amenities such as better carpet, a better furnace and amenities such as slide-out shelves in the kitchen were added to make the house more appealing.

    The CHEDA Board agreed to invest the requested $50,000 to participate in the project; each participating community is doing the same. Hoiseth said discussions will commence with Ross to determine how much he will contribute; it’s possible he’ll come up with half of the $50,000. Funding support in the form of loan capital is also being sought from the Northwest Minnesota Foundation, Northwest Multi-County HRA and Greater Minnesota Housing Fund, and Hoiseth said the agencies are receptive to the concept.

    The $50,000 will come from CHEDA’s workforce housing funds, Hoiseth said.

    He reminded his board that around three years ago, a potential collaboration with Homark Homes was in the pipeline, but the city council at the time eventually backed away from the deal.

    “We tried something with Homark a few years ago and we got to a point, but the city in the end didn’t want to provide the safety net, so the deal ended up not going,” Hoiseth recalled. “We’re sort of flying it back up the flag pole with a smaller introductory number for us.”

    It’s expected the order for the Homark home will be put in by Sept. 7 in order to assure that it’s placed on a Carman View Estates lot this year.

    Hoiseth said Homark was the chosen vendor because of its location in the region and its reputation for building a quality product. Asked to explain the difference between a “modular” home and a “manufactured” home, he said a manufactured home could basically be wheeled in, while a modular home is typically delivered in pieces or halves. He said modular homes are better overall.

    If CHEDA wants to get out of the program after this year, it could simply take back the $50,000 from the sale price. Or, more likely, Hoiseth said, Crookston and the other communities could reinvest the initial money in the hope of adding more affordable modular homes in future years.

    “The idea is to continue to roll the program,” he said. “Maybe we can reduce the price in the future with more houses, more communities involved, and more houses; maybe we approach other modular builders, too, to maximize our dollars.”

    He noted that a Roseau County commissioner has expressed an interest in the program, too.

    If other cities want to join the consortium, Hoiseth said it’s possible that a limited liability corporation could be formed, so each member city has a seat at the table. “It makes sense to build some sort of organization,” he said.