On Tuesday night, the City Council voted to move forward on plans to construct a city-sponsored affordable housing development on Madison’s far west side.
The Council voted unanimously in favor of reclassifying the zoning of a mostly vacant 1.3-acre parcel located at 7933 Tree Lane, near Mineral Point Road, paving the way for the site to host a 45-unit, four-story affordable housing project.
The project, spearheaded by Heartland Housing, Inc., an affordable and supporting housing provider based in Chicago, is expected to cost about $12 million. It would provide housing and support services for formerly homeless families. Support services would be provided by the YWCA of Dane County.
The Tree Lane project has come under scrutiny by neighborhood residents, who have cited concerns involving parking, a lack of green space and internal recreational space for residents and poor access to public transportation in the area.
Other neighbors at Tuesday night’s meeting also voiced concerns about the height of the building, the fate of the wetlands near where the building site and safety concerns related to a nearby ravine.
Proponents of the project rebuffed those concerns.
“The site is a favorable site, it isn’t a perfect site — there is no such thing as a perfect site,” said Rachel Krinsky, CEO of YWCA-Madison. “I hope we don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.”
The project, which has been moving through the city bureaucratic channels for years, is part of Mayor Paul Soglin’s five-year initiative to create 250 housing units for the homeless and 750 units for low-income workers.
The city included $1.5 million for the project in its 2016 budget. Dane County is also expected to contribute between $750,000 and $1 million.
Heartland Housing Inc. has said it expects to apply for additional funding from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) this year. Heartland's goal is to begin construction this fall.
Construction on another Heartland Housing Inc. project, located at 709 Rethke Ave., began last summer. That 60-unit building will provide housing for single, formerly homeless adults and offices for service providers.
That $7.5 million project was funded by $2 million included in the 2015 city budget for the project, consisting of $1,050,000 in general obligation borrowing and $950,000 from Dane County, as well as $5.4 million in WHEDA federal tax credits.
Heartland said it expects the first units in the Rethke Ave. building to be available in May.