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Option to purchase extended for project in Howard office park

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – The village board voted 6-1 Monday, July 13, to extend an option to purchase for Alliance Management to come up with a plan for developing property with apartments on portions of three village-owned lots along Security Boulevard in an office park.

The board’s action extends the option to purchase until June 30, 2021, after the previous option expired April 30.

Village Administrator Paul Evert said Alliance Management is proposing to build apartments on the back side of the lots and leave the street frontage for either office buildings or townhomes.

This drawing shows the proposed development of Alliance Management to construct five apartment buildings totaling 70-84 units on the back side of three parcels the Village of Howard now owns along Security Boulevard in Tax Incremental Financing District No. 8.

Evert said the option to purchase is for $1 while Alliance Management investigates the costs to develop the lots over the next 10 months and then tries to reach an acceptable development agreement with the village.

“The board had granted them an option for about six months, and then as winter dragged on and COVID hit, they just took a break from moving forward, and they’re asking for another shot to work on the property,” he said. “The idea is that they secure the option to buy the property while they spend money on planning.”

Evert said Alliance Management is interested in constructing five apartment buildings on three contiguous lots in the office park located in Tax Incremental Financing District No. 8 near the Wipfli CPA building.

He said six outlots where office buildings could be located would not be owned by Alliance Management.

The plans Alliance Management submitted for the project call for an apartment mix with from 35 to 42 two-bedroom, one-bathroom rentals at $1,000 to $1,100 a month and another 35 to 42 one-bedroom, one-bathroom rentals at $800 to $900 a month.

The exterior for the buildings, according to the plans, would have private entrances, a condo look/feel, views from all units and landscaping.

In addition to the property having to be rezoned, Evert said the village has worked with a planning firm, Vandewalle & Associates, to create a vision for the office park, which the proposed buildings have been incorporated into.

He said this is in hopes of attracting new tenants in the United Health building being vacated when the company moves to a new facility in De Pere.

Alliance Management CEO Erik Goerke said the pandemic delayed the company moving forward on whether to develop the property, and now the rental market is picking up.

“We’ve got the investor lined up, (and) we’ve got a lot of the work completed,” he said. “Now what we want to do is do the most expensive last – you know, 30 percent of the architectural (work) – with the idea of going into the ground right away as the thaw (occurs) next spring. But before we do that, obviously, we want to get the option reviewed.”

Trustee Craig McAllister, who opposed the initial option to purchase, cast the lone dissenting vote to extend it.

“I feel like it’s a business park,” he said. “We should try and find options, viable options, to continue having more of a business park, instead of turning one of our business parks into a residential area.”

McAllister said he also had a problem with Alliance Management seeking an option to purchase for $1.

“I just feel that it’s not correct to subsidize a project like this by selling property for $1 when we’re going to be hitting these other folks (who own property near the planned County VV/State Highway 29 interchange) very hard (with special assessments), and they don’t have anything to come out of it,” he said.

Trustee Ray Suennen said the village has tried to market the property for years and hasn’t attracted any other prospective buyers.

“The need for certain type of space for business purposes is really questionable at this point in time,” he said. “It’s actually quite an undesirable market to build in, so I feel at least this will get this property moving forward. I don’t want to wait for another 10 or 20 years before something might finally come there.”

Village President Burt McIntyre said leaving village-owned property vacant isn’t helping the community’s tax base.

“I think going this route will make it more utilized, and they can finish it, instead of a lot of empty fields and a lot of weeds growing in them,” he said. “It will upscale it, and it will make it look a lot nicer.”

Evert said the apartments would be owned by Alliance Management, similar to the company’s 84-unit Howard Lofts project next to the Village Center.

The company also manages and markets the Howard Commons apartment complex for the village.

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