A group of Bonesteel residents formed at the beginning of 2021 to discuss housing issues in our community. After working through county-wide meetings with a group named G-CODE in the two years prior, finally a more specific topic surfaced, and this group was able to target the unique housing issues we face in Bonesteel-Fairfax.
“When our group began to focus on creating opportunities for people to acquire lots and build in Bonesteel, our project really took off,” comments Sue Vogt, who has been a founding member of the G-CODE group since 2019.
“When we thought about a challenge we could help residents and future residents overcome, we all agreed that access to quality affordable housing should be our focus,” says Tim Sanderson, also a founding member.
The project was named “Building Up Bonesteel-Fairfax,” and the first goal was set: to convert old properties and advertise affordable lots for sale, specifically 3 lots for sale by the beginning of the summer.
“Once we had this very specific goal in mind, we all felt a sense of purpose, and that the goal we set was actually attainable,” adds Kelly Wollman, who joined at the beginning of 2021.
The group held monthly meetings with help from Dakota Resources for the first quarter of the year, and by March they announced their plans to the community. In communicating their goal to the public, the group saw a number of opportunities arise.
Just a few weeks later, the first dilapidated house (that had been acquired by the City) was demolished in Bonesteel, leaving an open and ready-to-build lot available to put a “For Sale” sign on.
The momentum just kept going from there. Kathy Divine contacted the Building Up Bonesteel-Fairfax group with two properties to add to the listings.
By the end of June, all three lots had “For Sale” signs on them, and a highway sign was installed advertising “Lots for Sale.” Listings were put onto the City of Bonesteel website and advertised through the City’s Facebook page, along with continued articles covering the project in the Bonesteel Enterprise.
In just one month’s time, two of the three lots were “Under Contract,” with both buyers intending to install new homes on the properties in the next few years. Both are now officially “SOLD.”
“I was impressed by the number of inquiries on the properties that were available, and the waiting list of potential buyers,” says Kathy Divine, who officially joined the group in May.
An excavator has arrived on Garrison Street in preparation to tear down this dilapidated home on a lot that sold over the summer as part of the Building Up Bonesteel-Fairfax housing project. A new home is already in the works for this location.
“The need for available properties continues,” adds Wollman. “We have had numerous inquiries since the two larger lots sold, with more interested buyers looking to build in and/or move to Bonesteel.”
One of the original lots currently remains for sale on McKinley Street. The group sees potential for a Governor’s Home on this property and are looking at the possibility of hosting a Governor’s Home informational meeting for the community in the Spring.
Another lot just became available and is listed on the website and Facebook page.
This group is invested in the growth and sustainability of our communities and looking forward to completing new goals moving forward.
“Looking to the future we are working to have more lots available and are excited to see several abandoned houses demolished here in the near future,” says group member Greg Hausmann. “I feel we are just getting started.”
Three dilapidated homes are on the schedule to come down just after the first of the year, with a forth also in the works. Cleaning up our town is another large focus for the group.
“Working alongside the City Council and the Development Corporation has been a great help,” Sanderson adds. The Development Corporation offered to reimburse up to $2,500 to those who have old homes, garages, etc. torn down. This is still an available reimbursement for anyone interested.
We have a lot to offer in this part of the county, and the demand is there. “As a resident of Bonesteel, I think we have a lot to be thankful for. We have great local shopping, access to recreation, and year-round family-friendly activities,” comments Sanderson.
The Building Up Bonesteel-Fairfax group enjoys working together, they meet at least once per month and share information and accomplishments during the in-between. They continue to invest their time and efforts to see even more success in 2022.
“I enjoy working with this group and love seeing all of the support from the community,” says Tyler Uecker. “I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
“As a lifelong resident of Bonesteel I feel I’ve been blessed to have raised my family in such a close-knit community, so I was excited when I was approached to join this group,” Hausmann comments.
As for future efforts, there is no slowing down. “There is unlimited potential to grow our communities and to do it in a coordinated manner,” comments Divine.
“We continue to champion these efforts for our community, because we love where we live. In order to keep this gem of an area thriving, housing has to be a priority,” says Wollman.
Vogt adds, “I’m very proud of what our group has accomplished so far, and am excited to see what will be achieved in the future.”
If you would like to get in touch with the group, view available listings, or submit a property for sale, please visit the City of Bonesteel website at cityofbonesteel.com.