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Waukesha YMCA plan back in mix

Developer seeks tax credits, city approval for apartments

Nov. 29, 2010

By Laurel Walker of the Journal Sentinel

Nov. 29, 2010 0

Waukesha - A 63-unit apartment project on the Waukesha Family YMCA property that failed to win federal tax credits last year is back in the pipeline this year.

City approval is being sought in advance of an application for federal tax credits due in February for the project, which is being proposed in partnership with CommonBond Communities based in St. Paul, Minn.

The project, fronting on Broadway and connected to the Y building by covered walkway, would provide housing for people with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and other mobility-impairing illnesses.

Steven Crandell, Waukesha's director of community development, said planning staff are recommending approval contingent on the Y including a small landmark gas station - designated as such over the Y's objections - on the site plan.

Chris Becker, Y executive director, said the landmark on the property wasn't shown on initial plans "because it is our intent to not have that building remain."

The Y appealed a Landmarks Commission ruling on the landmark designation earlier this year, and the city's Administrative Review Board directed the two sides to work on a way to relocate the building. The building at 422 E. Broadway was built in 1929 as a gas station that mimics a house but has also served as a fruit stand and used-car lot more recently.

The Landmarks Commission will discuss the matter again at its meeting Wednesday, and the Administrative Review Board has agreed to take up the matter again Jan. 17.

"We are committed to working through that process with the appeals commission," Becker said. The landmark site would be used for parking when and if the building is moved.

The city's Redevelopment Authority was expected to make a recommendation on the housing project, called Broadway Commons. Plan Commission review is set for Dec. 8, and Common Council action would be scheduled later in the month.

The four-story apartments would include 41 one-bedroom units and 22 two-bedroom apartments. A parking deck will provide parking for both the apartments and for the Y so that the YMCA would lose no stalls for its users, Becker said.

The project, which is located in a city redevelopment district, would seek tax incremental financing assistance in an amount not yet determined. It also would pay property taxes, according to a summary of the project on file with the city.

Federal tax credits administered through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority would result in some of the apartments being earmarked for residents earning between 30% and 60% of the county median income, but 10 units would not be income restricted. WHEDA awards tax credits competitively based on a scoring system.

The Broadway Commons development would include a service center staffed by a coordinator who would advocate for residents and coordinate their needs both with Y programs and with other services, such as transportation or recreation, according to the project proposal.

About Laurel Walker
Laurel Walker covered local, school and county government for 20 years -- the last half of that at the Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel -- before she was named Waukesha County columnist in 1997. Today she writes about the people, places and events around metropolitan Milwaukee with a broad suburban focus. She was the youngest of nine children raised on a central Wisconsin farm before leaving the nest for journalism studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and a masters degree at the University of Oregon. She has spent the last half of her life in Waukesha County, where she and her husband raised two sons. Though she has a fondness for life in Waukesha, she eagerly partakes in the culture of the big city to the east and the recreation of the forests to the west. With sons in the arts, she has a special fondness for symphonic music concerts and art museums. She finds peace in a good book at a Northwoods getaway weekend, adventure in family visits to the east and west coasts, and satisfaction in a column well-written that reaches readers.
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