Jeramey Jannene

Church, Cupid Partner On Affordable Housing

St. Matthew Church will see nearby vacant lots turned into 50 apartments for seniors.

By - Dec 4th, 2023 03:54 pm
St. Matthews Lofts rendering. Rendering by Engberg Anderson Architects.

St. Matthews Lofts rendering. Rendering by Engberg Anderson Architects.

A partnership of St. Matthew C.M.E. Church, Cupid Development and Cinnaire Solutions is aiming to transform a vacant lot overlooking Interstate 43 into 50 affordable apartments for seniors.

Cupid and Cinnaire are working to build a five-story building and 10 side-by-side townhomes at the corner of N. 8th Street and W. Chambers Street.

The proposal would be primarily funded by low-income housing tax credits, which are awarded in a competitive process each spring by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

Developer Malik Cupid told the City Plan Commission Monday that the Wisconsin Historical Society connected him with the Methodist church, which had acquired several lots surrounding its facility, 2944 N. 9th St., in recent decades. Cupid said he was inspired when he learned of the congregation’s role in the 1960s civil rights movement.

A zoning change would create an explicit agreement on what could be built at the site.

“They have been very receptive to our feedback,” said Department of City Development planner Kristin Connelly. The 40-unit, larger building would be pushed to the corner and the townhouses would be “configured in a pattern that is consistent with the historic fabric of the neighborhood.”

“This is pretty exciting for 8th Street,” said a nearby neighbor who testified in support.

“This site is very close to Downtown, very close to many resources,” said project architect Felipe Ornelas of Engberg Anderson Architects. He noted that the building’s location would yield good city skyline views. Balconies would be included in many units.

The larger building would contain a mix of one- and two-bedroom units. The townhouses would be three-bedroom units targeted at “grand families,” which consist of grandparents and their grandchildren.

The development team said the surrounding houses are relatively well-kept, but that there are several empty lots. “This development will help to fill some of those gaps,” said Ornelas.

Commissioner Allyson Nemec endorsed a concept to realign the townhomes and a pedestrian walkway to create a more sizable green space. “Just think about that a little bit,” she said. Ornelas said that was under consideration. A condition of the commission’s approval was for the design team to work with the Department of Public Works on appropriate walkway widths.

Nemec and fellow commissioner Catrina Crane encouraged the development team to pursue a formal play space, particularly for younger children.

The Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee will review the proposal, with the Common Council granting a final approval.

St. Matthew is led by pastor Richard D. Shaw, who also serves as chair of Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied For Hope.

The historic church would not be directly impacted by the plan. The structure, according to a Wisconsin Historical Society report, was built in 1915 and acquired in 1958 by St. Matthew.

The congregation still uses the building, but primarily meets on the far northwest side at 7500 N. 76th St.

In 2017, St. Matthew proposed building a new church facility on the site, 2953-2979 N. 8th St., but those plans did not proceed. Much of the lot has been used for parking in recent years. The church would sell the property to the development team.

A rendering shows the project named “St. Matthews Lofts.”

The tax credits require specific units to be set aside for qualifying individuals, with rents targeted at 30% of a household’s income. The development is seeking senior housing credits with a 55-and-up age restriction.

Cupid is also involved in a project to redevelop the historic Edison School into apartments. “Which I’m happy to report is under construction and going great,” said the developer.

The development sits on the edge of the North Division neighborhood.

Renderings and Site Plan

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