Archived Story

Projects, study indicate housing on the rise in Perham

Published 11:27am Tuesday, January 7, 2014

For a few years now, Perham has been contending with dual problems, problems that are intrinsically tied together.

The city has a need for more workers, but also has been lacking in places for potential workers to live.

But as long as these two problems have been at the forefront, a local group called Grow Perham has been working hard to find solutions.

“We’re looking at having local people reinvest in themselves and their community,” Grow Perham managing partner and organizer Dave Schornack said.

Grow Perham organizers have spearheaded the development of four Clearwater Apartment complexes in Perham since 2009, with a total of 56 units available in the building. Construction on a fifth building, the biggest so far at 16 units, is underway and is scheduled to be completed by May 1.

Schornack wants these housing projects to spur development in the business community as well. The group’s ultimate goal, according to Schornack, is to literally grow Perham by 1,000 residents in the next five years.

“It’s not just a housing issue we’re involved in; it’s much bigger than that,” he said.

These apartment buildings have made an impact in the city, according to Economic Development Director Chuck Johnson. Couple them with a 32-unit townhouse development also scheduled to open in the spring and Perham will be looking at almost 50 new openings in a few short months.

Johnson and other Perham city officials have heard presentations over the past few years from different companies looking to create housing in the city. But their plans have not been strong or sustainable enough, something that has not been a problem with Grow Perham.

“Largely speaking, they do it not as an astute investment, they do it because it’s good for the town,” Johnson said.

The 32-unit townhouse project is being done by Courtyard Property Management, who have created housing in surrounding towns including New York Mills and Wadena.

As for Grow Perham, Schornack expects the fifth building to fill up fairly quickly, as the four previous buildings did. A sixth and final building is planned for next year.

Perham officials also have some housing plans for the future. Johnson said the city has an application out for funding of a housing study. They hope to have the funding sorted out by the end of this month and construction plans set by the end of the spring for more buildings.

These projects should help move the city closer to Grow Perham’s lofty goals. Either way, Schornack is impressed with where the city has gotten in a short period of time.

“It’s pretty amazing what has happened the last couple years,” he said. “I don’t see it slowing down anytime soon.”

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