City of Monahans Stood Up By Builders

Nick Lawton
NwsWest 9

MONAHANS - So far, Monahans officials have scheduled two meetings with apartment builders on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both times, officials were stood up by the builders who, for the moment, declined their interest.

That's bad news for Monahans, as they need housing for a projected 500 jobs they're bringing in over the next six months.

"Never happy when you have someone that you're going to meet with, and they can't make it to the meeting, something that's really important to our community, and housing is our critical number one issue right now," Monahans Mayor, David Cutbirth, said. "Some of it, of course, is proving for the financing end of it, that you've got enough demand here. Our economic development corporation's going to help on that. We've commissioned a group that's going to come in and do a study, cost us a little bit of money, but we'll do a study to prove that we have the demand over here and we really do."

Starting on Wednesday, the Monahans Economic Development Corporation conducted a $5,000 study amongst apartment residents to gauge how great the need is.

Local realtors said some reasons apartment builders won't come is that while housing values in Monahans have doubled over the last five years, apartment rentals have only gone up 30%.

They also said their city's small size is a curse.

"We're a one-industry town, and this industry's booming right now, and they're scared of small towns," Phillip Derrick of Derrick Real Estate, Ltd, said. "If someone built a 50-unit apartment complex, the day they open, they'd be full. That's the type of demand we have. I turned away six today."

Officials are still set to meet with another builder from the Texas Panhandle in the next few days and they're talking with another from Andrews.

If an outside builder won't do it, the people of Monahans will take building into their own hands. Cutbirth said it might have to be their plan if no other builders come through.

"We'll join together and form companies and build it ourselves," he said. "We can do that. We know the local people around here. We know that those folks will invest in our community. They will, for the sake of Monahans, if we ask them to, step up and invest in it, and we'll build our apartment complexes."

Derrick also told NewsWest 9 some private individuals have expressed interest in building, fearing to lose employees.

"They're hiring individuals. They get here, they can't find housing, so they quit and go to work for someone in Odessa, Andrews, Kermit, wherever else where they can find housing," he said. "So they've realized unless they step in and help out and get housing here, they're going to start losing employees."

The City of Monahans is poised to bring in hundreds of new jobs to be taken, but with nowhere to house workers, they remain in a bind.