Waunakee housing rendering

This is an architectural rendering of a new, mixed-use apartment complex to open in the fall in downtown Waunakee. The $7.7 million project, dubbed "Madison and Main Apartments," includes financing from local investors willing to trade some profits for the chance to help provide housing for disabled people and improve the environment, organizers said. Located on a former brownfield site, the complex will offer 78 apartments, including 10 for low-income disabled tenants, and 3,500 square feet of commercial space.

Rendering by Avenue Architects

Waunakee leaders last week broke ground on a first-of-its-kind, mixed-use housing development providing 78 apartment units and 3,500 square feet of new commercial space for the village’s downtown.

The $7.7 million project, dubbed “Madison and Main Apartments,” includes $1.2 million in equity from local investors who wanted to earn a reasonable return while helping to bring affordable housing to the city, including 10 apartments set aside for tenants with permanent disabilities and another six for low-income residents who aren’t disabled, organizers said.

For the 16 “affordable” units in the project, tenants must earn less than 80 percent of area median income, and, in turn, will pay a reduced monthly rent compared to the 62 market-rate apartments.

“What makes this project kind of unusual for us and an interesting example is that it’s mostly a market-rate project,” said David Porterfield of Movin’ Out, a Madison-based housing nonprofit for the disabled that will co-own and manage the property.

“But our developers and investors on the project were willing and interested enough to somewhat limit (their profits) by including units for our (disabled) population,” Porterfield added. “Instead of putting their money into a 401(k) or some other savings mechanism, they decided to put it into this.”

Located on a former brownfield site that was purchased and cleaned up by the village prior to development, the project also will have a positive environmental impact, completing what the investment community nationwide calls the “triple bottom line” — or when a project provides a decent return, a social good and a green benefit.

“This project represents a great example of a national trend toward local investing,” said Howard Mandeville, executive director of Movin’ Out. “Since planning began on this project, other communities who have learned of it have expressed interest in seeing this happen in their towns.”

Beyond the local investor portion, Movin’ Out also assembled a variety of different loans, including:

  • A first mortgage of $5.475 million from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, or WHEDA.
  • A second mortgage of $900,000 from IFF, a community development financial institution that helps Midwestern nonprofits raise funds.
  • A loan of $300,000 in federal funds from Dane County’scommunity development block grant program.

The village of Waunakee also effectively subsidized the project at 301 W. Main St. by handling the cleanup and site-preparation costs and by selling the land to the developers for $1. The project will be built by Madison’s Encore Construction, with a scheduled finish date of fall 2014, and with architectural services provided by Avenue Architects of Spring Green.

“This is a major project for Waunakee leaders,” Porterfield said. “It’s right in the heart of their downtown.”

Movin’ Out was formed 21 years ago to help low-income people with disabilities and their families find affordable housing statewide. There are now 169 Movin’ Out-owned rental units in buildings in five Wisconsin counties. Movin’ Out also provides down-payment assistance and homeowner education for disabled people who want to buy a home.


Karen Rivedal is the education beat reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.