Retail b N Dakota

Minneapolis' Oppidan Investment bringing key services to North Dakota's Bakken region

cash-wise

Minneapolis' Oppidan Investment Company has quickly become one of the busier developers in North Dakota's oil-rich Bakken area.

Minneapolis' Oppidan Investment Company has quickly become one of the busier developers in North Dakota's oil-rich Bakken area.

In February, the company held a construction ceremony to celebrate its Watford Plaza retail development in Watford City, N.D. The retail development will cover 120,000 square feet and include a Cash Wise Foods supermarket, Happy Rice Buffet restaurant and an Alco home-furnishings and -supply store.

And Watford Plaza is only one of two key developments that Oppidan is working on in Watford City: Oppidan in October of last year began construction of Pheasant Ridge Apartments, a 42-unit apartment complex scheduled to open in May.

When you look at the entire Bakken region, it's clear that Oppidan is making a major investment in the area. The company has either planned or completed developments in the North Dakota municipalities of Dickinson, Minot, Stanley, Tioga and Williston. In total, Oppidan is investing more than $150 million in the Bakken region of North Dakota.

Joe Ryan, president of Oppidan, said that the developments are needed as more people flock to North Dakota to take advantage of the area's low unemployment and plentiful jobs in the oil industry.

"North Dakota's population is growing exponentially," Ryan said. "Providing residents with the services and housing they need is critical."

A top location

Jay Moore, a developer with Oppidan, told Minnesota Real Estate Journal that the Watford Plaza retail development benefits from a prime location, sitting at the busiest intersection in the community.

"This is an undeveloped piece of property that has been there forever," Moore said. "We are very excited about the location."

The entire undeveloped property covers 45 acres. Oppidan is developing its retail project on 12 of these acres. The property's other undeveloped acres will soon be home to such complementary buildings as hotels, office and a gas station.

"This project will change the dynamic of everything in Watford City," Moore said.

Moore points at the new Cash Wise grocery store that will be part of Watford Plaza. The grocery store will be 55,000 square feet. Currently, Watford City is home to just two grocery stores that are each about 7,000 square feet.

The Alco store that will rise next to the Cash Wise will cover 27,000 square feet. This store sells home furnishings, electronics and supplies. The Happy Rice buffet restaurant will cover 5,000 square feet.

"There are a lot of services that are needed in that community," Moore said. "The development is creating a lot of interest. When all these developments are built out, it will bring a change to the community. These developments will provide those services that the residents maybe weren't able to get here. They'll provide the services that they previously had to drive to a bigger city to get."

Oppidan started construction on the retail plaza in October of last year. The Cash Wise grocery store is scheduled to open in early July of this year.

“Oppidan has become a key community player in Watford City’s continued growth,” said Brett Sanford, the city's major, during Oppidan's February construction ceremony. “The retail development they are bringing to our small town rivals developments in North Dakota’s largest cities.”

A continuing trend

Of course, Oppidan isn't the only developer that's busy today in the Bakken region. Geologists estimate that the Bakken region of North Dakota holds more than 25 billion barrels of recoverable oil.

That, along the advent of fracking, has changed this part of the country. Today, a host of developers are busy building apartment communities, single-family homes, gas stations, hotels and retail centers to serve the area's now-booming population.

“The opportunities are almost limitless, and it is not too late to get involved,” said Jeff Johnson, publisher of Minnesota Real Estate Journal, who has hosted several conferences -- including one March 15 at the Golden Valley Country Club in Golden Valley, Minn. -- on the Bakken region in the last two years.