In my slightly more than six month term in Rugby, I have attended dozens of meetings. Probably half of them have included at least some discussion of what is now referred to as Chalmer’s First Addition, a proposed housing development in southeast Rugby.
The development, done in conjunction with the Job Development Authority and the city of Rugby, was a pretty painstaking process, even by government standards.
Few would argue that housing is an issue in Rugby, both in its current state and as it continues to grow, as studies predict that it will.
The idea behind the development is that it would help accommodate the growth, with the JDA purchasing the land and acting as developer, and the city assisting with infrastructure costs and using its bonding power to fund the project.
From what I can tell, members of the JDA board and city council are in virtual unanimity: the development is needed in the city.
Getting the details ironed out has taken some time.
Initially, there was some thought of doing a portion of the addition, with another portion able to be added at a later date.
But with interest rates as low as they are, it was tough for the groups involved to pass up the opportunity to do the entire development.
Those same interest rates should make borrowing money for potential buyers and builders just as attractive.
Most of the lots will be set aside for single family houses, with the thought that people coming to Rugby to join the expanding job market would be interested in building or buying developed homes on the lot.
There is also some room in the expansion for multi-family dwellings, like duplexes and apartments.
And while the lots probably won’t appeal to those in the lower- or middle-income brackets, the development may open up housing opportunities elsewhere in town.
As discussed at many of those meetings that I attended, the city/JDA was in a rare and somewhat strange position. Generally the government isn’t in the role of developer.
I’m sure almost everyone on the JDA board and city council would have preferred that a private developer took on such a project, bringing some new housing to Rugby.
But apparently that wasn’t happening, and most officials believed that without a place to grow, there would be no growth and Rugby would remain stagnant. Some folks might think that’s just fine, but I, for one, would like to see Rugby grow and expand.
It certainly has the ability to expand at a reasonable and comfortable rate, unlike towns like Watford City, Stanley and Tioga in the thick of the Oil Patch,
For the most part, I think the city council and JDA board have done their due diligence to make sure that they are moving forward on a project that will be successful.
But any time a public entity moves forward with a major project with some uncertainty, like the housing market, there is some risk. But the fact that it’s being viewed as a long-term project should minimize some of the risk.
At this point, the project is moving forward, risk and all. If the project works out, it should be a great boon for the city and could be a part of Rugby’s growth and development over the next decade and beyond.
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