10 December 2014
Written by Kecia Bal
HDC Developments’ has filled a critical need for housing in
With about $60 million in construction under way in North Dakota’s booming Bakken region, HDC Developments has established itself as a reliable contractor for quality marketrate apartments in a region that desperately needs housing.
HDC, which specializes in construction management and general contracting throughout the upper Midwest, focused on building for North Dakota’s oil rush about six years ago. At the time, the longtime commercial and mult-family contractor was one of just a handful of companies that stepped forward to build dwellings to support the influx of workers and others drawn to the area’s revived oilfields, owner Jim Lemke says.
“There has just been a terrible need for housing there,” Lemke says. “That is why the man camps have sprung up. When we first started building out there, we realized the communities never anticipated this growth.”
Even now, the area’s infrastructure remains taxed by tremendous growth.
“It was not enough to cope with the development,” Lemke says. “Right now, for every project I have going out there, I have big diesel generators for power because power companies are so far behind. They will not give you temporary power.”
So far, HDC has built thousands of housing units, such as the Elk Pointe Apartments in Minot, N.D., a set of three 23-unit apartment buildings, and Meadow Ridge Apartments in the same community ─ a project started in 2010. HDC’s Southwood Apartments in Minot have two 24-unit buildings with garages and three 36-unit buildings with garages. Those feature combinations of one- to three-bedroom units with up to 1,600 square feet.
“We used to leave a building on a Friday,” Lemke says. “The crew would get back on Monday, and the whole building would be filled. The projects would open at 100 percent occupancy.”
The demands have started to shift from basic housing to more spacious dwellings and the company is ready to accommodate, Lemke says.
“They are getting nicer,” Lemke says. “Some now are three bedroom and three bath. As the oil work has come in, you have to have the force to support them ─ your grocery and fast-food stores. That has started to build. Now, to keep the demand there, the apartments are getting fancier.”
HDC is working on a 148-unit project in Williston, N.D. ─ to be completed in a year ─ that has drive-under garages and granite countertops. It may be the first such project in Williston to feature drive-under garages, Lemke says.
“As long as there is work out there, we will continue to stay in that region,” he says. “We have stayed true to following the market.”
The Minnesota-based company is licensed in 14 states and got its start in the ’70s serving the healthcare business.
“When the congregate living started, we got into that market,” Lemke says. “When that was built up, everything shifted to assisted-living homes.
“We follow the market. When we did the nursing homes, a lot of times there would be assisted-living or congregate with it, too,” Lemke adds. “We have done a lot of market-rate apartments and have stayed in the wood-frame industry.”
HDC remains active in assisted living and healthcare, with clients such as the Covenant Medical Group in Illinois, which is among the largest in the nation as far as assisted-living units.
No matter whether a project is commercial or residential, Lemke says HDC is known for its commitment to quality.
“We turn out a very nice building,” he says. “We get a lot of compliments for the workmanship.”
Maintaining that reputation long-term calls for attention to each aspect of the general contracting process ─ from the in-house team to subcontractors.
“It is both in the details and the people we hire,” Lemke says. “We have a lot of subcontractors who will follow us around. If I have one who creates a problem, he is replaced.”
A job superintendent is charged with ensuring quality, especially during quick turnarounds ─ another competitive advantage for HDC.
“The time of construction on our projects is better than most contractors out there,” he says. “We get them done quicker. That helps the developer. They have lower finance cost. When they go and get a construction loan and you get a project done in seven months instead of 10 months, they just saved three months interest. The faster you can get it done, the better off you are going to be ─ for the contractor, the owner, the general contractor. It is a benefit to everyone.”