The developer proposes a housing project with all the units at a lower cost Downtown | local government

With the city desperate for affordable downtown housing, a developer is proposing a four-story apartment project just blocks from Madison’s Capitol Square, with all units offering lower-cost rents.

Bear Development of Kenosha proposes to reuse and transform a two-story office building and add new construction to create the four-story, 45-unit project at 402 W. Wilson St.

All of the apartments — 19 one-bedroom units and 26 two-bedroom units — would be available to those earning up to 60% of the Dane County area median income, or $49,500 for a two-person household. The project would be funded primarily through 4% low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, according to a submission to the city.

The proposal offers individual balconies as well as an elevated rooftop patio on the west side of the building above the parking garage. The project also provides underground parking for 40 vehicles and bicycles.

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The existing building, built in 1957 and last updated in 1999, was originally the seat of the Wisconsin State Bar and more recently housed the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Ald said. Mike Verveer, whose 4th district includes the site. It was valued at $2.53 million for 2021.

“I’m really excited that we finally have an interest in a 100% affordable housing project in the heart of downtown,” Verveer said. “It’s a sign of progress and hopefully the first of many to come in the future.”

Nick Orthmann, Bear’s project manager, declined to comment, saying the proposal is still early in the process. The development team will make an informal presentation to the city’s Urban Design Commission at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The proposal received a generally warm reception at a recent neighborhood meeting, said Jonathan Cooper, president of the Bassett District of Capitol Neighborhoods Inc.

“I would say the proposal was generally well received by the neighbors present and people liked the concept of integrating the existing building into the new development,” Cooper said. “The neighborhood definitely welcomes the idea of ​​workforce housing, but with rents set at 30% of income at 60% of the Dane County median, there are concerns about the affordability of this accommodation.”

The development has a lot to like about reusing the office building in terms of sustainability, but the housing won’t be affordable for everyone in the community, Verveer agreed.


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Recently, four influential associations in the downtown neighborhood proposed a joint resolution suggesting that at least 15% of housing be for people earning 30% of the area’s median income, or $24,800 for a two-person household. , Cooper said. The resolution has no legal value.

Neighbors expressed concerns about the amount of outdoor space along Broom Street and the potential impact on street trees; the planned use of gas heating rather than an all-electric system or heat pumps; and whether there is enough space for move-ins/moves out without blocking traffic, Cooper said.

City plans recommend residential development on the site and a maximum height of four stories. The Bassett Neighborhood Plan indicates that the area should be residential in nature with an evolving mix of new, higher density buildings carefully integrated with existing structures.

Verveer is hosting an online neighborhood meeting on April 6 at 7 p.m. To register, go to www.cityofmadison.com/MeetingApril6Wilson.