Senior apartment, housing approved in Ashwaubenon
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUNBEON – A development agreement to build a three-story, 60-unit senior apartment building and 15, two-story, three-bedroom rental townhomes between Mike McCarthy Way and Borvan Avenue was approved on a 4-3 vote Tuesday, Dec. 8, by the village board.
Trustees Gary Paul, Chris Zirbel, Allison Williams and Tracy Flucke voted for the agreement with General Capital, a developer in Fox Point, while Village President Mary Kardoskee and trustees Steve Kubacki and Jay Krueger voted against.
In addition to the agreement’s approval, for which General Capital will receive a $1.2 million Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) loan incentive upon issuance of the final occupancy permit, the board also approved a site plan for the project, adding a provision to have car ports onsite.
The board’s action comes a week after it voted down an agreement 4-3, prior to four conditions being added for this week’s vote.
After concerns were raised by some board members Dec. 1 about having the necessary infrastructure in place to make the project succeed, General Capital agreed to the following:
• General Capital will fund the full cost of sidewalk connecting the parcel to Mike Vann Park, estimated at $50,000.
• General Capital will work with the village to install a concrete slab and decorative bike rack to terminate this segment of sidewalk at Mike Vann Park, estimated at $10,000.
• At the village’s discretion, General Capital will fund the painting of bike “sharrows” or other appropriate markings on Borvan Avenue.
• General Capital will contribute $25,000 toward sidewalk improvements to connect the parcel to Holmgren Way.
Three board members switched their votes with those conditions added, when two members previously opposed to the agreement – Flucke and Williams – then voted in favor and one member previously in favor – Krueger – ending up being opposed.
Krueger said he doesn’t expect the senior apartment project will attract of lot of seniors in Ashwaubenon, based on income, and he wouldn’t recommend the development to his mother, aunt or uncle.
“I don’t see it fitting into Ashwaubenon,” he said.
Williams said she reconsidered her vote because the project offered affordable housing.
“I think this price range is key,” she said.
Community Development Director Aaron Schuette said repayment of the loan by General Capital will be guaranteed over a 20-year period, starting in 2022, with annual payments of at least $80,825.
Schuette said the village will be able to keep any amount above $80,825 if the assessed value of the property generates more than that in annual property taxes.
Sig Strautmanis of General Capital said the four items added to the agreement would typically be costs borne by the TIF District, but by having the developer pay for them, they would take “some of the stress off the TIF for additional infrastructure improvements.”
“The important thing here is we believe this will go a long way, not just for our residents, but also the surrounding neighborhood and the TIF at large,” he said. “It’s going to improve the physical appearance of that street and also, frankly, the marketability, which I think is another concern. What happens to the rest of the TIF, if this is just an island development? So, we think this is a positive kind of a spinoff of what we’re proposing.”
Regarding the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on development in TIF No. 5, Strautmanis said the housing project could proceed, because it isn’t dependent on “this whole virus issue to be resolved.”
“Our project could in fact provide much needed affordable housing options for seniors and for families that could be negatively affected by COVID and have come upon some hard times,” he said. “So from this perspective, our project could make a positive impact on addressing the unknowns surrounding the virus issue.”
Ashwaubenon’s Community Development Authority agreed Dec. 1 to sell General Capital the 2.51-acre site for a $1 with the conditions the board approve a comprehensive development agreement for a senior apartment and townhome development, along with General Capital being awarded Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) tax credits and closing on the sale not occur until after the development agreement is fully executed and WHEDA tax credits are awarded.
Strautmanis said he feels great about the prospect the project will receive WHEDA tax credits.
“This project brings high quality affordable senior housing to Ashwaubenon, which is a high village policy priority,” he said. “The timing is critical. Major changes to the (WHEDA tax credits) program make the project infeasible in the future.”
Strautmanis said rental rates for the project aren’t “100 percent set yet,” but the 12 units there would be no income restrictions will be around $900 for a one-bedroom unit and $1,150 for a two-bedroom unit.
He said units where 30 percent Area Median Income credits apply would be around a third of the cost.