Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

City Seeks Firms To Transform Vacant Homes

Plus: A recap of the week's real estate news.

By - May 1st, 2022 01:53 pm
Vacant home slated for redevelopment by Gorman & Co. that the city previously owned through property tax foreclosure. Located at 2628 N. 21st. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

City-owned, vacant home slated for renovation in 2018. House has since been renovated. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Department of City Development is seeking developers to renovate vacant houses the city has acquired through property-tax foreclosure.

The city will sell the houses for as little as $1, provide a development subsidy estimated at $75,000 based on the renovation costs and grant a $5,000 workforce subsidy. After renovation, the properties may be sold to owner-occupants, rented out or placed into a rent-to-own program.

The effort, targeted at renovating 150 houses from an inventory of approximately 700, is being funded with $15 million from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act grant. Alderman Robert Bauman introduced a proposal to tackle all 700 homes in spring 2021, and the council ultimately adopted a scaled-down version in October 2021

“Growing up in Milwaukee, I experienced the effects of housing insecurity just as many residents and families currently are. This is personal for me, so we worked to deploy federal ARPA funds for this initiative that will revitalize vacant properties into new homes,” said Mayor Cavalier Johnson in a press release announcing the request for proposals. “Together, we are working to build stronger neighborhoods, promote homeownership, and ensure every Milwaukeean has access to the quality, affordable housing they need.”

DCD issued the RFP for what it is calling the Homes MKE initiative on Friday.

The subsidy of up to $75,000 per home will be provided in four installments as work is completed. A property repair plan and market analysis will need to be completed by the development team for each property to determine the final subsidy.

Houses in the program are mostly located in an area bounded by W. Silver Spring Dr., W. Lincoln Ave., the Milwaukee River and N. Sherman Blvd. The aldermanic districts with the most city-owned homes are located on Milwaukee’s Near North Side.

The city hopes to sell properties, both single-family houses and duplexes, in packages to developers. Responses are due June 3. Construction is to be underway on all participating properties by the end of 2023.

The RFP makes clear homeownership is the priority.

“Under no circumstances may properties be ‘flipped’ to another investor-owner,” says the RFP. Unless the property is sold to an owner-occupant, the house must be developer-owned for at least five years. A deed restriction will require a sold property to be owner-occupied for five years and owners would be required to complete eight hours of home-buyer counseling through either Acts Housing, Housing Resources, Inc. or the United Community Center.

To access the workforce subsidy, a developer’s workforce must include a minimum of 300 hours of work completed by unemployed or underemployed city residents. In addition, at least 50% of the houses must be completed by workers residing in the following ZIP codes: 53204, 53205, 53206, 53208, 53210, 53212, 53215, 53218 or 53233. A living wage of at least $12.21 per hour must be paid.

DCD also has a goal of allocating 40% of the funding to emerging developers.

A pre-submission meeting for interested parties is scheduled for May 12.

Renovated houses must meet a variety of standards related to lead safety, energy efficiency and code compliance.

Homes MKE in many ways resembles a scaled-up version of the Milwaukee Employment/Renovation Initiative (MERI) program. DCD launched the first phase of that program in 2017, with 104 home renovations completed by 2019 in an area centered around the Sherman Park neighborhood. MERI 2.0 was launched in April 2020.

DCD sold 249 improved properties (lots with a house, commercial building or another structure on them) in 2021 from its inventory of property-tax foreclosures. The city’s inventory of foreclosures, which is always turning over, surged as a result of the Great Recession.

A copy of the RFP is available on Urban Milwaukee.

Weekly Recap

New East Side Townhomes

Four new townhomes are rising on the north end of the Downer Avenue commercial corridor, and unlike many other recent housing developments, the units are for sale as condominiums.

Dubbed the Park Place Townhomes, the units come in two configurations.

The 1,711-square-foot, three-story units in the middle of the building are listed for $675,000 each. When finished in the coming months they will have two bedrooms and three bathrooms (two full).

The 1,160-square-foot, two-story units at each end of the building are listed for $550,000.  Those units will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms (one full).

Read the full article

Evers Allocates $20 Million For Affordable Housing

Governor Tony Evers is throwing a lifeline to dozens of affordable housing projects stuck in limbo because of rising construction costs.

Evers is allocating $20 million from the state’s federal American Rescue Plan Act grant to fill financing gaps in affordable housing projects that were allocated tax credits in 2020 or 2021. Construction costs rose during the pandemic as a result of supply chain issues and now inflation pressures are further pushing costs up.

“I often talk about connecting the dots and affordable housing is one of the most important dots we can connect,” said Evers in a press release. “Affordable housing links business growth, job creation, and education, and it’s good for our workforce, our kids and families, and our seniors. This is a critical investment that will help more folks have access to safe, affordable housing while bolstering community well-being throughout our state.”

The effort is intended to move approximately 1,800 units of affordable, rental housing from the drawing board to construction.

Read the full article

How Will City Plan Change Bay View?

The Department of City Development has reached the halfway point in its work to develop a new land-use plan for Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood.

The planning effort, launched in 2021, is taking place at the request of area Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic and comes as real estate investors and new homeowners alike have taken an interest in the southside neighborhood.

The goal is to create a shared vision for its future, including identifying development options for catalytic sites, ways to support local businesses, opportunities to provide a wide variety of housing units, targeted areas to improve parks and streets and potential historic preservation options.

“It’s a big project for us and we’re really pleased to be in a position now to give an update to the [City Plan Commission],” said DCD planning manager Sam Leichtling to the commission on Monday. The new plan would amend the much broader Southeast Side Area Comprehensive Plan that was adopted in 2008 as part of a citywide planning effort.

Read the full article

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