April 14, 2008

WHEDA passes on Corinne Owens development on State Street

The state declined to finance a $5.6 million affordable housing and commercial development named after local civil rights activist Corinne Owens, the developer said Monday.

Damon Dorsey and his development company, the Dorsey Group, had proposed building 24 three-bedroom townhouses and 4,500 square feet of commercial space on State Street next to the Racine Transit Center (map).

The proposal had the support of city officials, but failed to receive funding from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority. WHEDA announced its $100 million in affordable housing tax credits on Monday.

Dorsey said WHEDA rejected the Corinne Owens-Reid Square project because of a "weak" housing market. That left Dorsey wondering how the state felt that a city with the highest unemployment rate didn't have a need for affordable housing.

"I knew it could get rejected, but I didn't think it would be because of a weak market," said Dorsey, who is based out of Milwaukee. He added that it was WHEDA who suggested the project include townhouses for people to rent.

The apartments were 2,000 square-feet each, a comfortable amount of space for families in search of affordable housing, Dorsey said.

"We did a market study that showed there was a need for this kind of development," he said. "I guess WHEDA saw it a different way."

WHEDA's decision does not necessarily kill the project, he said.

"There's still the possibility to do a project there, we just have to go about it in a different way," Dorsey said.

Two Racine County projects did get funded by WHEDA. Lincoln Villas in Mount Pleasant received $283,996 for 97 low-income units for the elderly. And, Burlington received $93,469 for 36 low-income units in the Foxtree and Hillcrest apartment buildings.

1 comment:

  1. It's a shame to exploit the name of Corrine Owens this way.