The developers for a proposed 60-unit affordable housing project along West Verona Avenue must reduce the height of the building before approval from the City of Verona.
Alders were nearly split on the redevelopment of the Klassik property at 410 and 420 W. Verona Ave. during the Common Council’s Monday, Oct. 12, meeting. Ultimately, the council voted 5-3 to deny approval for Northpointe’s general development plan (GDP), an important step in the approval process.
The development included 75 apartments, 15 of which are market rate; and 6,895 feet of commercial space. A portion of the commercial space would be dedicated to the Old National Bank, which currently sits on the property but would be torn down as a part of the redevelopment.
Northpointe representative Sean O’Brien said in an email to the Press if the developer can find ways to change the proposal including reducing the height of the building to three stories, they would attempt to bring a new proposal back to the Plan Commission in December.
The developer would like to submit an application to the Wisconsin Housing Economic Development Authority for tax credits, which is due in December. O’Brien said they would have to ask the council to have a special session to make the deadline and be eligible for the tax credits.
O’Brien wrote that affordable workforce housing is certainly needed throughout the state but especially in Verona, and Northpointe would work to keep the affordable housing financing available through the county in the community.
Alds. Katie Kohl (Dist. 2), Kate Cronin (D-3) and Charlotte Jerney (D-3) voted to approve the GDP, which is the second to last step in the developmental process. Receiving approval from the council during the GDP stage grants the developer the right to build the project, as long as it is substantially similar to what’s in the plan.
All three alders said that although they would like to see the plan reduced to three stories, they voiced strong support of affordable housing.
“If we deny something like this, what is going to be good enough to go into this spot?” Kohl, who is a member of the Plan Commission, rhetorically asked.
All alders seemed supportive of the 60 affordable housing units, which would have been rented to people making 30% to 60% of the county median income. The developer had already secured $1.5 million worth of financing through Dane County Affordable Housing Fund and had planned to install solar panels, which would have paid for 90% of the common area’s usage.
The sticking point however, was the height of the four-story proposal so close to one-story single family units creating a “tunnelling feeling” on West Verona Avenue, one of the city’s main thoroughfares.
Other concerns, that were echoed at the Oct. 5 Plan Commission meeting, included traffic, lack of green space and lack of retail space on West Verona Avenue.
To accommodate some concerns of neighbors and alders, Northpointe Development reduced the scope of the project from 80 apartment units to 75, and reduced the commercial space from 9,319 square feet to 6,895 and added a playground. The reduction pulls the development away from the neighbors and the surrounding streets.