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Courtyard Apartments celebrate grand re-opening

By Sue Sitter - | Sep 25, 2021

Sue Sitter/PCT Rugby Mayor Sue Steinke joins local and state government officials and Affordable Housing Development staff to cut a ribbon marking the grand re-opening of Courtyard Apartments in Rugby. From left are Scott Burlingame and Tina Ouderkirk, both of AHDI; Dave Flohr, executive director of North Dakota Housing Finance Agency; Steinke; Maria Effrertz-Hanson of the North Dakota Department of Commerce and Andrea Diede of AHDI.

State and local government officials joined community members Sept. 16 for an open house to celebrate the grand re-opening of Courtyard Apartments, an affordable housing complex in Rugby.

Residents of the complex sat in a common meeting room in one of the complex’s buildings to listen to presentations by owners Affordable Housing Development, Inc. (AHDI) and other local and state officials. After the presentations, attendees enjoyed refreshments and chatted about the project.

Event organizers set aside two units, each marked with balloon bouquets for tours. One unit was remodeled for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It featured lowered light switches, a stove with knobs on the front for easier use and a wheelchair-accessible shower. The units will be available for rental soon. Many of the remodeled units are already occupied.

AHDI’s executive director Andrea Diede said the complex, built in 1981, had come a long way from its former condition, where floors sagged and “the buildings were sort of caving in.”

“We said, ‘how do we fix that?’ and we met with a few people. And since these were built in 1981, a lot of the accessibility features weren’t up to date. So, we were able to take space from the pantry area to make the bathroom fully accessible. That was one of the big changes to these units in here,” Diede said of two ADA-compliant units in one of the buildings. The Courtyard Apartments also offer modified-accessible units that have fewer features.

The project resulted from collaboration between the City of Rugby, the Rugby Job Development Authority (JDA), AHDI, the North Dakota Department of Commerce Division of Community Services, Souris Basin Planning Council and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency.

After the tours, attendees joined representatives from Affordable Housing Development, state agencies and the City of Rugby for a ribbon cutting in front of the complex.

“I’m really glad to see they’ve tackled this project,” Steinke said of Affordable Housing Developers. “When they approached us two years ago to upgrade this, we definitely encouraged them to do it.”

“The City of Rugby, through the JDA, was their sponsor. So, it’s another important project with the JDA and another important aspect of what the JDA does in this community,” Steinke added. “And housing of all kinds in Rugby is very important. Not only do we have the Chalmers Addition, but we need low-income housing to also help the whole mix of residents in Rugby. I’m very excited they completed this program and the facility looks great.”

Maria Effertz-Hanson of the Department of Commerce’s Division of Community Services told the attendees projects such as the Courtyard Apartments are needed to house workers all over the state. “I want to thank all of you who worked so hard. Those of you that live here, thanks for opening your homes to us today. I’m super-excited to see all of the investments and changes and it’s nice to see something close to my home like this,” the Minot resident said.

Effertz-Hanson said the Division of Community Services “manages the community development block grants, which is federal funding that comes to the state for things like support for low to moderate income housing, which is what this project is.”

“We also help support infrastructure and other activities with those block grants in partnerships with the local entities,” she added. “This project is a great example of where community development block grants, or CDBGs came in to fill one of the gaps that is needed. And because there were a lot of other partners, both private and public, it became one of those projects that scores really well, meets a need – such a need in communities and also delivers a benefit in terms of, now, this facility will be here long-term, which is really critical when we take a look at housing in our communities across the state.”

Tina Ouderkirk, executive assistant at ADHI, gave thanks to Lindsey Ulrickson from Souris Basin Planning Council and Pierce County Auditor-Treasurer Karin Fursather for their help with the project.

Scott Burlingame, president of AHDI, also thanked “Courtyard tenants for having to put up with all this construction as well as being in the middle of a pandemic and the fun that comes with that; First Dakota Enterprises; Prairie Engineering; Two Brothers Moving; Johnson’s Plumbing; Rugby Electric and a whole bunch of other people.”

“It’s really cool to see such a big crowd here today and see people come out and support affordable housing because it really is such an important part of a well-balanced and inclusive community,” Burlingame said.

“I think it was pretty cool to walk around and see some of the upgrades and some of the improvements to this and walk through a couple of units that are open right now and realize these are soon to be homes to people who are going to continue to make this community home, so that’s a pretty special thing,” Burlingame added. “It’s amazing when you look at how this came about in the midst of a global pandemic with factory shutdowns, supply shortages, shipping delays and inflation of prices, quarantines and health and safety protocols – it’s a true testament to how people came together to get something done under extraordinary circumstances.”

“The project altogether was a little over two million dollars,” Burlingame said of the cost. “Construction began in July 2020 and completed this month. Courtyard Apartments is the last subsidized affordable housing project in Rugby. The funds received from this revitalized the property and are going to allow these units to remain affordable for many more years to come.” “The property consists of one eight-plex and three four-plex buildings for a total of 20 units – 11 one-bedroom units and nine two-bedroom units,” Burlingame added.

“In addition to the structural repairs, the building’s parameters were insulated, with ventilation and heat, with crawl spaces and trusses that were added to support water heaters,” Burlingame said, describing the remodel work. “Decks were replaced; the units received paint and new air conditioners and the eight-plex was re-sided.”

“Funding from this project was made possible by Housing Finance Agency through the state’s Housing Finance Trust Fund,” Burlingame said. “This fund strengthens North Dakota communities and provides for affordable housing and is paid for and chosen by the legislature every year, so projects like this that are successful mean a lot.”

“It’s a beautiful project.” Rugby JDA Director Karl Frigaard said as he toured one of the buildings. “I think it couldn’t have come off better. With the cost of remodeling and keeping people onsite, it’s very valuable, especially with our economy and residents here in town.”

Courtyard Apartments are located at 307 2nd Ave. NE in Rugby.

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