County Board to Use Messner’s Property for Affordable Housing

Posted February 9th, 2017 @ 8:09 AM by

It’s like bizarro world today, the county board is going to use the former day site property for affordable housing AND, and this is the freaky part . . . the mayor agrees.

Here’s the press release from the county board, they will vote on it tonight.

Would use Messner property to leverage project in Tenney-Lapham neighborhood

In a move to provide affordable housing in a popular east-side neighborhood, the Dane County Board will consider at its regular meeting Thursday a resolution to either sell or lease the former Messner Inc. property on East Washington Avenue.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Room 201 of the City County Building.

The county purchased the Messner property at 1326 E. Washington Ave. in 2015 with the idea of providing a day center for the homeless but those plans failed to materialize.

County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan said the vacant Messner property now presents an opportunity to open serious discussions about adding more affordable rental housing units in the downtown.
Corrigan said discussions would involve Dane County, the City of Madison, the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood and other stakeholders. “There is clearly a need in the neighborhood for more affordable housing.”

Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, whose district includes the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood, said the tremendous growth in the area has only put more pressure on housing costs. “At a time of intense investment in the East Wash corridor and a massive increase in luxury rentals, we must use the power of local government to pursue intentionally inclusive and equitable development projects,” she said.

Wegleitner said she was encouraged that public officials have recognized the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood as “a great place to pursue affordable housing for families. I’m confident Dane County staff will work collaboratively with City planning and development staff as this process moves forward,” she said. “I also look forward to hearing more from neighborhood residents, city officials, housing advocates and developers about their interests as we pursue redevelopment of this property.”

The resolution before the County Board on Thursday designates the Messner property for “mixed income” rental housing. That would include units priced for very low income residents making below 50 percent of the county median income and extremely low income families making below 30 percent of the county median income as well as market-rate units

The county would not build or operate the housing on its own but rather would look to work with a private developer. A request for proposals (RFP) would be drafted with input from a variety of sources. The goal is to complete the RFP by June.

“I think everybody involved wants to get moving forward on this as quickly as possible,” said Corrigan.

And also weird, they sent this out BEFORE the meeting, instead of AFTER. Wow.

Ok, here’s the mayor’s email . . .

TO: Dane County Supervisors

Last Friday, City staff had a positive meeting with Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, Supervisor Jennifer Dye, Alder Ledell Zellers and others about a County resolution that will be before you at your meeting on Thursday. This is RES-497 regarding redevelopment of the former Messner properties.

I would like to emphasize a few important points that City staff shared at that meeting.
· Other City officials and I welcome this opportunity to work again with the County on additional affordable housing for our community. This is a very important priority for us all.
· To be consistent with the City’s development process, the type of project described in the resolution needs land use review and consideration with approval required by the Plan Commission, the Urban Design Commission, and the Common Council (assuming rezoning would be required).
· Appropriate Dane County staff should contact Natalie Erdman, the Director of the Planning, Community and Economic Development Department, to become acquainted with the City’s review process that is used for all affordable housing developments.

Paul R. Soglin

Wow, look what happens when you communicate face to face, in advance, on issues. I have to admit, I was one of the “and others” in the meeting and the mayor’s staff was quite insulting to us. They kept telling us that we weren’t being “thoughtful” about this proposal. I suppose it seems weird to have a government entity setting up a process to include the public in decision making and not to have everything all worked out already, but that’s part of the being “thoughtful” process. But to tell Heidi Wegleitner and Jenni Dye that they are not thoughtful is beyond crazy as they are two of the most thoughtful women (along with a few others) in government that I know! And I have no clue why they think we wouldn’t know that a project would need land use approval – seriously, duh. You’d have to live under a rock not to know that. But, whatever, we have agreement! We let them lecture us and then viola! Support! It was almost a little too easy . . . but let’s celebrate today and see what happens!

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