Click on photos for a larger version. All photos by Alan Draves.

The Congressional

Second Congressional

The First and Second Congressional Subdivisions became a controversial subject in Grand Forks late in 1998. The subdivisions are located at the west edge of the city, west of I-29, in an area untouched by the 1997 flood. About 180 new homes were built here after the flood by several local contractors working for Grand Forks Homes, using 49 different floor plans. Prices range from $105,000 to $147,000. As of February, 1999, only 12 homes had been sold.

After the flood, the city of Grand Forks estimated that about 1000 homes would be lost permanently because of the flood and the upcoming dike construction. Whole neighborhoods had been destroyed. Before the flood, the supply of housing had been limited. Where were people going to live?

The city's response was to enter into a partnership with a private nonprofit organization, Grand Forks Homes, to develop the First and Second Congressional Subdivisions. The city provided part of the financing for the project from the federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds received after the flood. The rest of the money was borrowed from Fannie Mae and by issuing tax exempt bonds. The borrowing was to be paid off with the proceeds from the sale of the houses. Unfortunately, the proceeds from the sale of 12 houses will not make too many payments.

Why didn't the houses sell? Possible reasons include:
  • Some Grand Forks residents moved out of the area after the flood. Others moved to nearby small towns or rural areas.
  • The prices were out of reach for many residents who lost homes. Many of the homes lost in the Lincoln Drive neighborhood and older neighborhoods near the river were in the $50,000 to $80,000 range. The prices also put the homes out of reach for many apartment dwellers who might want to buy a house.
  • The location on the west edge of town is away from the fastest growing part of town in the south end, and is somewhat isolated from the rest of the city.
  • There are no schools or day care centers in the area west of I-29, making the area less attractive to families.
  • The name "Congressional" makes it sound like a public housing project.

The Congressional subdivisions became a controversial subject in December, 1998, when Grand Forks Homes asked City Council for $400,000 to pay an outside consultant to develop a marketing plan. The request was disapproved after considerable citizen opposition. Instead, a local advisory committee was established to come up with marketing ideas. Also, radio station KCNN received a $150,000 contract for marketing the Congressional subdivisions. The radio station will give away a house as part of the promotion.

Here are some of the ideas suggested to help sell the Congressional Subdivision homes:

  • Reallocate unspent CDBG funds from other programs to pay off the special assessments for building streets, sewers, etc. This would reduce the price of each home by $15,000. Prices would start at $90,000, allowing more people to afford the homes.
  • Assistance for low and moderate income homebuyers, funded with unspent CDBG funds.
  • Landscaping to screen the subdivisions from a nearby railroad track and mobile home park.
  • Developing a neighborhood park. The land for the park has already been set aside.
  • Rename the subdivisions. Grand Forks Mayor Pat Owens proposed "The Meadows". The creator of this web site proposes "Lincoln Heights", to remember the Lincoln Drive neighborhood lost in the flood, and because this area was high ground in the flood.
  • Build a school and day care center west of I-29.
Update - May 1999

In April, Grand Forks Homes lowered the prices of the unsold homes by an average of $17,500 per home. The prices now range from $89,800 to $126,200. As of May 27, 1999. a total of 31 homes have been sold, and there are now 74 additional offers pending on Congressional homes. If all current offers are accepted, over one half of the homes would be sold.

Second Congressional
Construction of Second Congressional, April, 1998.

For Sale
170 homes for sale.

Lanark and Plum
Plum and Lanark: Lincoln Drive residents will recognize these street names.

KCNN Dream House
Someone will win this house from radio station KCNN

More Congressional Subdivisions Photos

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This page maintained by Alan Draves.