Swiss real estate developer Stropiq has locked up 430,000 sq. ft. of anchor tenants for its planned 1 million-square-foot, 200+ acre, mixed use complex in the heart of North Dakota’s Bakken oil country. The development, called Williston Crossing, is scheduled to break ground in March 2015 in Williston, North Dakota. The project is targeting completion/opening in 2017.

The project is the brainchild of Terry Olin, co-founder of Switzerland-based Stropiq LLP. Stropiq is a North Dakota State University alumnus. Since September 2013 Stropiq has invested $20 million in Williston projects.

“Just imagine that your significant other brought you [to the Bakken] and you have to drive two hours to a shopping center. As projects like this take place, more families will move in. We’re not building for the population that’s there today, we’re building for the population that’s going to be there three years from now,” Olin said in an interview with the International Business Times. “We’re in the center of 150,000 people who have to drive hours to get to retail.”

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m not sure that’s even putting it quite strong enough. There’s a monumental population shift, [because] the technology has created an industry that wasn’t here before. The Bakken is the center of that. Today, we have the only place in the U.S. and maybe in the developed world where a population of 50,000 is a minimum one hour away from a Target or similar retail.”

North Dakota oil recently crossed the 1 MMBO/d production threshold, earning the state a newfound prominence on the world stage as a major oil producer. Were it a country, North Dakota would be tied with the United Kingdom in the EIA’s list of the world’s top 20 oil producing countries. Rapid growth of oil production from the Bakken in the Williston Basin has fueled a rapid influx of workers to drill and complete wells and to provide the technical support needed in a major oil producing area.

The influx of workers, and now families, has exposed needs on the surface:  the area lacks human support infrastructure. Between 1998 and 2013, North Dakota added 132,000 jobs, a 41% increase. More than half of those were added within the past three years, according to CNN/Money. The state’s economy grew at five times the rate of the rest of the country in 2012, and grew nearly three times greater compared to Texas, the second-fastest growing state.

“We’ve doubled in size in three years and we will double again in the next three years,” Tom Rolfstad, executive director for the city economic development department, told CNN.

The Williston Crossing site is situated near the planned interchange of U.S. Highway 2/85, five miles from the “proposed new Williston airport,” according to a press release about the proposed development.

The Bakken population boom has caught the attention of other developers. Singapore’s Barons Group of Cos. is developing a $300 million project in Dickinson, about a hundred thirty miles south of Williston. North Dakota has attracted at least 31 publicly announced foreign investment projects since 2003 worth $1.04 billion,” the International Business Times said.

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