Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

330 Affordable Apartments Planned By Developers

Part of 2,021 planned across Wisconsin. Plus: A recap of the week's real estate news.

By - Feb 11th, 2024 01:46 pm
Compass Lofts. Rendering by Abacus Architects.

Compass Lofts. Rendering by Abacus Architects.

Six apartment developments would add 330 affordable housing units to Milwaukee as part of 40 proposals submitted to the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA).

Three of the six proposals are planned for sites on N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive., with the remainder scattered across the city. The projects encompass a mix of development styles, including constructing new buildings, redeveloping a former school and renovating an aging apartment complex.

The six proposals represent 16% of the 2,021 apartments proposed across Wisconsin as part of the annual low-income housing tax credit allocation program.

The credits are the most common tool used in Wisconsin to create federally-defined affordable housing. Receipt of the credits requires developers to set aside a pre-determined number of units at a discounted rate for those making no more than 60% (with few exceptions) of the area’s median income. The credits last for a period of at least 15 years, which is often extended to 30 years.

Winning a credit allocation serves as the key financing component to the development, but a groundbreaking is often still approximately two years away as development teams sell the credits to institutional investors, secure additional financing and finalize project designs.

The credits offer a dollar-for-dollar reduction on income tax bills. Depending on the program, the awards are made for up to 10 years, meaning a $1.2 million award turns into $12 million. In Milwaukee, the Department of City Development has increasingly supported the use of tax incremental financing districts, structured effectively as property tax rebates, to close remaining financing gaps.

WHEDA uses an annual competitive process to award the credits, with an award announcement often coming in April or May. Applications, like in past years, exceeded the amount of available federal credits. Projects are scored on a point system according to the state agency’s “qualified allocation plan,” which incentivizes setting aside units for the lowest-income individuals, proximity to jobs and availability of supportive services.

Developers often must pursue additional public financing sources to serve the lowest-income households.

Waitlisted or rejected projects, as the Historic Patterson Place redevelopment of the former Carleton School was in 2023, are able to be resubmitted in future cycles. The proposal is vying for credits for a third time, the second time in its current configuration.

The Milwaukee unit total is down from the 534 units proposed last year, which can be partially explained by the fact that 2023 had two projects with more than 100 apartments. By unit count, the largest 2024 Milwaukee request is the proposed renovation of the 72-unit Northwood Apartment complex on N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.

Five Milwaukee projects totaling 452 units were approved in 2023, part of a $32 million statewide award that backed 23 developments with more than 1,500 combined units.

Two different grant programs exist. One provides a 9% federal tax credit and the other provides a 4% federal and 4% state income tax credit.

Units are set aside at pre-targeted income levels and rents designed to cap rent at no more than 30% of a household’s income.

2024 Milwaukee Project List

Compass Lofts

Historic Mitchell Residences

Historic Patterson Place

Mason Temple Heights

Northwood Apartments

Union at Rose Park

Weekly Recap

Construction Starts On Long-Awaited King Drive Building

Construction is underway on a long-sought Harambee apartment building that will add 46 affordable apartments to the north end of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

“There is no doubt that this new development will be yet another positive step in the trajectory of MLK and Harambee,” said Mayor Cavalier Johnson at a groundbreaking ceremony held Friday afternoon at the site, 3317 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.

Getting to this point hasn’t been easy, nor fast. The development, Five Points Lofts, was first publicly revealed in January 2020, when Johnson was still a first-term council member and COVID-19 was a thing few had heard of. But the site, a combination of long-vacant city-owned lots, has been awaiting change for even longer.

Area Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs has been thinking about it for decades. She grew up two blocks away. “I remember seeing this vacant lot for several years and wondering ‘what would it someday be?'” said Coggs.

Read the full article

After Taking Ownership, Milwaukee Moves To Secure Northridge Mall

The City of Milwaukee took full possession of Northridge Mall in late January and is now moving to secure the frequently vandalized property.

Two private security firms are now monitoring the vacant mall, a board-up contractor is tasked with checking the property for openings and closing them and an assessment of environmental hazards was completed. A new security fence is also in the works. A request for proposals was issued Tuesday soliciting fencing contractors to wall off a larger portion of the complex than ever before.

Full-scale demolition is planned for later this year, but the new fencing system is expected to be installed starting in March. The Department of Public Works is moving to fence off the mall itself and the adjoining Boston Store property, which the city has owned for several years. Demolition on the Boston Store building will begin in the coming weeks. A Department of City Development spokesperson said demolition contractor HM Brandt installed a fence around the work site on Feb. 5.

The existing mall fencing, broken in several spots, would be removed as part of the latest proposal. A new six-foot-tall fence is to be installed. Based on a site diagram, the ring road that encircles the complex would be open. The road has been at least partially closed for several years.

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Milwaukee Officials, Climate Advocates Praise Clean Energy Projects

Current and former elected officials joined residents, workers union members and climate organizers in Milwaukee County on Friday to raise awareness about new pathways now open to homeowners to access clean and renewable energy. Mayor Cavalier Johnson joined County Executive David Crowley, former Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, Green Homeowners United (GHU) union worker Warren Kirby, and others to announce new opportunities for green policies to take root in Milwaukee.

The officials and press gathered outside the home of Milwaukee resident Danny Miller, who received $12,000 through a federal tax benefit program for energy efficiency for attic insulation, air sealing, and basement sealing work. “The Affordable Clean Energy Plan can help with energy efficient appliances and home improvements that save energy and reduce costs,” Johnson said at the event. “I encourage homeowners in Milwaukee to take a look at all of these available opportunities. There is money waiting for you to tap into.”

“The clean energy movement is here,” said County Executive Crowley. Residents and workers can access tax credits, rebates, and benefits to help build a local clean energy economy through President Joe Biden’s Affordable Clean Energy Plan, he added. “These efforts will also help save Wisconsin households thousands of dollars through energy efficiency upgrades.” One of the Biden Administration’s climate policies is reducing energy costs for families nationwide. The clean energy plan included $1.8 billion in investments in low-income homes, hundreds of millions in weatherization grants, and $750 million to support energy efficiency and resilience for the nation’s housing sector.

Milwaukee has a set of local climate goals including reducing local greenhouse emissions 45% by 2030 and achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Local officials also hope to build a new workforce in green energy jobs, particularly for minority neighborhoods which have been historically neglected by the government. Ensuring that home energy upgrades are more affordable is another one of those goals. Replacing sections of the decrepit city housing and empty lots with new, low-carbon footprint homes is another goal in the city’s Climate and Equity Plan. The plan also “envisions supporting a new factory in Milwaukee that constructs modular housing components year-round to both reduce the cost of new home construction and restore manufacturing job opportunities for people of color.” Other goals include creating more electric transportation, building a green energy grid, restoring nature areas within the city while protecting those which remain and re-designing waste reduction.

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By Demolishing Homes, Milwaukee Hopes To Revive Neighborhoods

Mayor Cavalier Johnson has a big vision to “raze and revive” Milwaukee’s neighborhoods.

And judging by the speed by which a backhoe worked Monday morning, the razing part is off to a great start. The reviving portion will take years longer to play out.

Johnson held a press conference at 3347 N. 26th St. to promote the strategy, which starts with doubling the city’s demolition budget to approximately $3 million to raze 180 homes this year.

“To be clear, demolishing a neighborhood blight of and by itself is not the end all, be all,” said Johnson. “I want lots created by demolition to be sites of opportunity in Milwaukee. Perhaps a new home, or some other positive neighborhood assets.”

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