While economic prognosticators debate what impact declining oil prices will have on the oil-laden economies around the word, there is a 219-acre development project in Williston, North Dakota, that is moving forward undeterred. Stropiq, Inc., the international real estate principals behind the most ambitious retail driven, mixed-use project currently underway to serve the residents of the Bakken region, is moving its program forward with the formal filing of its planned design documentation with Williams County of North Dakota.
Stropiq’s filing reveals an open-air retail and entertainment destination using a “Dakota Modern” theme, a design intended to use man-made and natural materials to bring together regional character and local style. The concept is being brought to life by Gensler, the master architects on the project.
“We intend to create a community gathering place that will truly delight northwest North Dakota’s residents and visitors. If this goes as planned, it will be the first institutional quality, regional family destination in the Bakken,” said Terry Olin, Principal of Stropiq. “Williston is home now. We are planting deep roots in this community with a phased development plan that allows our project to reach financial sustainability and contribute to the quality of living in the region for generations to come.”
Most ambitious development projects of Williston Crossing’s scale rely on the capital markets for some level of equity or debt funding. Slipping oil prices and economic lags could impact commercial developers’ confidence and their ability to move projects forward. Stropiq principals remain unfazed by what they describe as temporary pricing fluctuations that won’t outweigh the enormity of natural resources and potential in the market. The company is also funded to launch its development with existing firm capital.
Larry Jensen, Senior Director of Retail Development from JLL, who has been advising on the project since its inception concurs. “While oil prices may cause temporary caution, there is a cost efficiency of oil production in this region along with sheer supply that makes investments sustainable. This is a unique project, sitting in an even more remarkable setting and economic backdrop, which are very compelling for retailers, hoteliers and entertainment operators.”
Long-term investors, like Stropiq, understand the ebb and flow of the market and have flexibility built into their design to adjust to market dynamics. “We have developed in resource-dependent emerging markets before, and we know the patience and determination it takes. We are leveraging decades of experience for this project,” added Ellen Simone Weyrauch, Stropiq principal.
At completion, Williston Crossing is expected to encompass approximately one million square feet of retail and entertainment, plus hotel space, with a mix of office and multifamily options. A decision from Williams County is expected in April 2015, after which, if granted entitlement, Stropiq will launch the next phase of development programming.