EPA Region 8 Brownfields Program
Perseverance  Leads to Success  in
Dickinson, North  Dakota
For more than 20 years, the historic Dickinson Elk building stood empty and posed a health risk
to its community. Once a vibrant part of downtown Dickinson, North Dakota, the building is now
poised for redevelopment and will serve as a cornerstone for the city's revitalization.

                                           KEY ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Improving Local Economies Provides
Redevelopment Opportunities
Like other communities in southwestern
North Dakota, Dickinson has experienced an
out-migration in the past decade due to under-
employment and aging of its population.
Falling farm prices and drought have also
affected the local economy. At the same time,
an economic boost provided by oil and gas
recovery has led to increased commercial
and residential redevelopment in Dickinson.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey,
Dickinson is located at the lower tip of an
area that could produce as much as 864
million barrels of oil, 278 billion cubic feet of
natural gas, and 39 million barrels of natural
gas liquids.  Though most drilling takes place
north of the city, Dickinson has still felt the
economic benefits. In 2008  alone, oil and
gas production taxes generated more than
$320,000 for the city. This is a significant benefit for a rural city of approximately 16,000 residents that lies
within a USDA Rural Economic Area Partnership Zone.
A Community Symbol in Disrepair
The Dickinson Elk building has stood as a symbol of the community since its construction. Built in 1913 to
provide space for the growing membership of the local Order of the Elk, the building also became home to the
Dickinson Normal School—the predecessor of Dickson State University—from 1918 to 1924. From the mid-
19208 until the 1960s, the building featured local businesses and a ballroom used for social functions. The Elks
last used the space as a meeting hall in 1982. Over the past three decades, ownership of this building changed
several times, and for the last several years, has stood vacant. Allowed to fall into disrepair, the former Elk
building became home to pests and vermin, making it difficult to convince developers to invest in the property.
The city took ownership of the site in  December 2001.
                                              Completed an environmental assessment and cleanup of the
                                              Dickinson Elk Building
                                              Leveraged 11 cleanup jobs
                                              Recognized the Dickinson Elk Building as a National
                                              Historic Landmark
                                              Restoring and redeveloping a community symbol, as a major
                                              component of the city's overall revitalization plan

                                                       LEVERAGED RESOURCES
                                                           Contractual support from an EPA Region 8 Targeted
                                                           Brownfields Assessment
                                                           $200,000 from an EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grant
                                                           $150,000 from the City of Dickinson
                                                           More than $800,000 in private funding
Assessment Leads to Redevelopment and
Leveraged Resources
EPA Region 8's Brownfields Program provided
contractual support through a Targeted Brownfields
Assessment (TEA) to provide lead and asbestos
sampling, as well as removal  and remediation cost
estimates. Testing conducted from September 2002
through March 2003 resulted in conclusive evidence of
airborne particles containing lead and asbestos fibers, which are a health risk for workers and visitors to the
building, as well as the surrounding community. The building's mold spore counts were elevated compared to
an outside spore count. The assessment also found trace amounts of arsenic but concluded that concentrations
were too low to pose a likely risk to workers involved in short-term renovations.
In 2004, the City of Dickinson received a $200,000 EPA Brownfields Cleanup grant to clean up and restore
the Historic Dickinson Elk Building. The city used the EPA grant—as well as more than $94,000 of its own
funding—to safely clean up the property in 2005.
In 2006, the city transferred site ownership to Dickinson Elks, LLC. The city had set aside $150,000 in a
construction fund back in 2003 to assist with eventual redevelopment of the property. In addition, the Dickinson
City Commission granted the developer a 100 percent tax exemption for a five-year period on the Dickinson
Elk Building. The developer hired a historic consultant to research and assist in the building's placement on
the National Register of Historic Places maintained by the National Park Service. Redevelopment is currently
underway and includes restoration of the building for use as commercial space and residential condominiums.
Perseverance Leads to Success
Redevelopment of this historic site has not proceeded without setbacks. In October 2007, a fire destroyed the
roof of the building and created an enormous amount of debris, bringing progress to a temporary halt. The
blaze occurred just days before the building was to be considered  for historic preservation by the North Dakota
Historical Preservation Review Board. This did not deter the developer; on April 11, 2008, the Dickinson
Elk Building was listed in  the National Register of Historic Places and redevelopment is now scheduled for
completion in the summer of 2010. The area has drawn significant interest in both the planned condos and
commercial space, and the project is expected to attract new business and residents to downtown Dickinson.
This project will eventually restore a prominent historic property that was once the town's social center
and eliminate the threat of environmental contaminants to city residents. It will likely stimulate additional
development in the downtown area, create jobs, and generate local tax revenue. To date, this project has
already leveraged 11  cleanup jobs, and as of October 2008 more than $800,000 has been invested into the
redevelopment (and unexpected fire cleanup).
For additional information, please contact:
Shawn Kessel, City Administrator, City of Dickinson, North Dakota: (701) 456-7739 • www.dickinsongov.com
EPA Region 8 Brownfields Program: (303) 312-7074 • www.epa.gov/region8/brownfields
                        United States
                        Environmental Protection
                                                            Region 8
 September 2009