Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Workforce housing and Menards, Minot, North Dakota

The Associated Press reports in "Menard sends state workers to staff booming Minot, N.D., store" (via the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the story is more complete than the version that ran in the Washington Post) that the Menards Home Improvement chain will hire workers in Wisconsin for their new store in Minot, North Dakota, and fly them in for weekly shifts, putting them up at hotels.  (The media has been full of stories about the boom in North Dakota, and shortages of workers and housing, due to the shale oil and gas boom there.)

From the article:

Menard, which has more than 200 stores in the Upper Midwest, said this would be the first time it has ferried in workers by airplane, but it believes jetting in employees for weeklong stints and housing them in hotels “is going to be a permanent solution for as far as we can see.” ...

Businesses struggle to attract workers throughout North Dakota, which has some 22,000 more jobs than takers and the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, at 2.4 percent, Job Service North Dakota data show. The unemployment rate in Minot is 2.3 percent.

Menards is really missing the boat by not building housing above their store in Minot, making the store a mixed use facility.

Years ago, I remember reading about Tesco Supermarket chain in the UK mentioning the cost of worker housing as a limiting factor in their growth, given the prevailing wage rates versus the cost of housing.  And they discussed how, as part of developing their sites, they could build housing above the store, although they wouldn't limit it to workforce housing.  (They have since moved into the mixed use development market, not unlike how retailers in the US often develop shopping centers.)

In DC, Safeway has redeveloped two sites where they'll be part of mixed use projects with residential housing above, and a third site was built this way, but where a Safeway store hadn't been located, at CityVista Downtown.  Plans are to redevelop other Safeway sites in upper northwest DC similarly.  Giant Supermarket will be opening supermarkets on the ground floor of mixed use housing developments in Cathedral Heights, H Street, and the Shaw neighborhoods.
Petworth Safeway rendering
Rendering of the new Safeway + housing development in Petworth, on Georgia Avenue.

A Best Buy, Container Store, and a hardware store are in the old Sears in Tenleytown, and 400+ housing units were built on top of and adjacent to the building.
Old Sears
Flickr photo by NCinDC.

In the Vancouver development The Rise, a Home Depot and a Canadian housewares chain retailer, Winners HomeSense, are located on the first two floors, along with a supermarket, and there are apartments above.
Vancouver's The Rise mixed use development

Menards is missing an opportunity to be creative and innovative and solve problems.
Menards image from the Little House on the Corner blog.  I don't have an image of the Minot store.  I don't imagine it's any different from this one.  Granted building housing above would have been more complicated. But given the demand, from their own employees and more generally, they could have developed the project differently, and solved multiple problems simultaneously.

Labels: , , , , , ,


At 9:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is Minot an urban area that justifies multilevel housing above the supermarket? What if the workers settle and buy their own homes after their relocation? Would the store then be left with empty dud housing with little demand from the rest of the community? Menards has their own business to run without becoming a residential property manager. Urban solutions are not always appropriate to non-urban areas. C'mon, I doubt Minot has much in common with Vancouver or Washington.

At 11:22 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Clearly you haven't been reading very much about the availability of housing in North Dakota. There have been multiple articles in the NYT, Post, USA Today, and others about this.

this is representative:

It's a special case that absolutely justifies the suggestion.

While I can't find the articles I am thinking of very quickly, note the paragraphs on housing from this piece

North Dakota is home to four of America’s 10 fastest-growing counties. The population explosion has created a serious housing shortage. Hotels are overbooked. In the city of Tioga, groups of truckers sleep in their rigs and shower in public bathrooms. The local radio station recently closed shop to convert into a more profitable RV park. The fortunate few who can find lodging in Tioga pay rents that rival those of major cities, topping $1,200 a month for a two-bedroom unit. In Williston, median home prices doubled over four years. Many families end up living in cheap, trashy housing.

Oil companies are filling the housing void with “man camps,” temporary lodgings that can be trucked in and out of the area. In New Town, one trailer park where some 90 families have lived for decades was sold to new owners, who doubled the rents and sent eviction notices to residents in order to make room for oil workers.

At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These units would stay full. Minot would benefit from this type of housing

At 10:32 PM, Anonymous Dan G. said...

May we take this opportunity to introduce our company to you.
We are North Dakota Developments {}

We work in the real estate sector as an Investment company and as developers .
Our development and real estate acquisition company is called
North Dakota Developments.

We have already acquired a 110 bedroom hotel in Dickinson which we are
refurbishing now and hope to have 50 of those rooms operational by April
this year. We are also building Mini Hotels in and around the Bakken Oil fields
as per the attached brochure. We aim to build 1000 rooms in the form of
5 bedroom luxury units applicable for all grades of workforce.

Our Luxury Mini-Hotels are what might say are the polar opposite of the
man-camps already erected through North Dakota's Bakken Oil fields.
Oil workers love our mini-hotels and even more important we have gotten
praises from local municipalities and counties.

We are hoping to forge relationships with companies requiring accommodation
for their workforce be it management or manual workers and to locate funding
for our Luxury Mini-Hotels and regular Hotels to provide the needed housing.

Tel: 1-845-459-5703


Suite 105C
300 North Dakota Avenue
Sioux Falls, SD 57104

Building today’s homes…
using tomorrow’s technology

At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Minot is not really Booming like the other Oil Patch towns such as Williston. (which Menard's just announced will have one of the largest Menanrd's store's in the nation) Minot's housing shortage and employee shortage is related to the recent flood that displaced nearly 4,000 households. Many people left Minot and those that remained struggle to find "temporary" housing. Minot is feeling some of the impact of oil, but it is definately not a booming town because of oil. The airforce base in Minot has added a couple thousand new personal and along with the displaced flood victims and a few people with oil that are spill over from the western part of the state.


Post a Comment

<< Home