February 2, 2009

Controversial West Racine development up for a vote tonight

Update: I just did the tax on the property taxes generated by the development. Once complete, the project would bring in about $152,000 a year to the city (based on a mill rate of $21 per $1,000 of assessed property value). Does anyone know if this is a TIF district? If not, that's a nice addition to the city's general fund.

Update 2:
Just talked with City Development Director Brian O'Connell. This is a TIF district. The city borrowed $2 million to knock down old buildings and prepare the site for redevelopment. Tax revenue from the development will go to paying back that debt. Once that's paid back, the tax revenue will go to local governments.

O'Connell made another important point. There's not much development going on anywhere in the state (pretty much the whole country) right now. This may be Racine's best shot at redeveloping this parcel for several years.

As for comparisons to Jacato Drive, O'Connell said there was no comparison. The Jacato Drive apartments were built to 1970s standards, which are a far cry from modern standards of quality and energy efficiency. He added that Jacato Drive was built at the end of an airport runway, while the new development is planned for a vibrant neighborhood. "I have a real difficulty seeing the comparison," O'Connell said.

Update 3: Here's a PDF of the petitions opposing the West Racine project. Colt may be right: Any prospective mayoral candidate (ie. Helding, Spangenberg) may have a difficult time voting for this project.

Original post: The City Plan Commission is scheduled to vote this evening on a $7 million low-income housing project planned for West Racine.

The project pits city staff against residents over the vacant plot of land at Washington Avenue and West Boulevard. At a public hearing Wednesday, City Development Director Brian O'Connell spoke in favor of the project, which includes 55 apartments and commercial space. But 26 people spoke against the proposal at the meeting, and opponents turned in petitions with at least 200 signatures. Eight people spoke in favor of the development, which is proposed by a North Carolina-based company.

The city knocked down old buildings on the site to make way for new development, but initially had hoped for a restaurant and a mixed-use development that blends with West Racine's buildings. The architecture on the new development arguably fits with the area, but there's no restaurant in the plan. Opponents are worried the low-income housing - available to families who make between $23,000 and $43,000 a year - will attract crime to West Racine.

The Plan Commission put off a vote at its meeting on Jan. 28 because it ran out of time. Members scheduled a special meeting for tonight because the developer faces a Feb. 17 deadline to win approval for state tax credits. The City Council meets Tuesday and needs to approve the development for it to move forward.

At least one Plan Commission member is in favor of the project. Brent Oglesby said at the last meeting he intended to vote for the development. The project needs three votes to win the Plan Commission's recommendation.

12 comments:

  1. Tell you what vote for the plan be out of office.
    You will lose West Racine votes for Mayor
    We will find candidates to run for your Counsel seats. We will demand that the acting Mayor remove Apt members.
    Same goes for Tuesday night EVERYONE who votes for this disgrace to West Racine will be targeted by the voters.
    We will fight to save West Racine from being turned into a slum.

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  2. As a West Racine resident I don't see this becoming a slum in any way. If anything it will create a small cell in the neighborhood of people who have a high chance of spending money right there on Washington. To me the targeted demographic seems to be more along the lines of up and coming adults (someone going to school and working at best-buy for example.
    All of the businesses will do extremely well, as this demographic also tends to like pizza, coffee and doughnuts.
    Some foot traffic is something we need more of in this city.

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  3. Anon 9:11

    Chap 8 housing will NOT be buying pizza and coffee They will be buying drugs and booze.
    Look at the State and Main in the top three for police calls.
    West Racine get ready to be the sheep for the wolfs both in City Hall and coming to the Chap 8 Housing paid for by your Tax $$

    Dustin with respect talk to the folks living at State and Main or the Wagon Lofts see what they have to say about living in mixed income buildings.

    If this is built and it goes South there is no unbuilding it

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  4. The "targeted demographic" doesn't exist in Racine in sufficient quantity to fill the project, nor has it expressed an interest in such a project. Look at State and Main. Look again. Look at Mitchell Wagon Lofts. What about the old Badger Uniform building? Developers come into town with promises, promises, promises, but we all know what the reality will become. The fact that Landmark is the only one proposing a development should raise more red flags - if it's such a good idea, why aren't other developers interested?

    I'm sorry that the city wasted $2 million tearing down perfectly good buildings (a trademark or Racine's "rebirth"), but grabbing at the first development that comes along without concern for current residents is not the way to go. This may well ruin the one last neighborhood that Racine has not yet managed to screw up. Let it stand empty for decades, like the hole in downtown's landscape until J-Wax stepped up, as a reminder of the arrogance and disdain of our city officials.

    As for comparisons of building techniques and materials, what is that all about? Anyway, the new State and Main was plagued by mold and shoddy workmanship throughout its construction, problems that haunt it today. The city forced them to gut the place and start over, but it was never reported in Becker's press.

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  5. Here's a picture I took of an "Emergency Flood Restoration" truck in front of State and Main less than a month ago: http://i300.photobucket.com/albums/nn6/orbscorbs/Picture5439s.jpg I drive by the building regularly, and the trucks are there regularly. This is a "new" building, using "new" building techniques and "new" (non-union) labor.

    Btw, my sister lived on Jacato Drive shortly after those buildings were put up. They were wonderful apartments. No buildings can withstand the abuse of the current tenants, though, and neither will this proposed project. I've spoken with maintenance men of Jacato buildings. They have to keep entire spare toilets on hand because they are regularly demolished. Who or what are these people?

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  6. Green Racine2/02/2009 11:19 AM

    I say we leave it as a Park Farmer's Market. Last year I saw many from all over Racine come and not only buy from the Farmer's Market and other stores close by.
    In fact it can be proven that Farmer's Market can and do bring neighborhoods together improving not only public safety but housing values. Look at The Farmers Markets in Madison or Milwaukee
    Why does every idea out of City Hall mean getting rid of Green Space?
    Yes a Farmer's Market/Park would be some very nice for that area of town.

    ----------------------------------

    If this get stuffed down West Racine look for home owners to flee home values to drop crime to go up another wining showcase for Racine to point to.

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  7. John Ringo ~ This is NOT Section 8 housing. Do your homework before you comment!

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  8. Anon 11:31 I was at the meeting at City Hall Landmark said they "have to take Chap 8" Out of her own mouth.
    That would be Chap 8 housing mandated by WEDA.

    "O'Connell said there was no comparison to Jacato Drive,..."
    Sir try the type of renters you are so willing to sick to West Racine! My guess is you do not live near that area nor anyone you know

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  9. State and Main wasn't "supposed" to be low income housing either. Of course everyone knew that was a lie from the start, but the city and the developers rammed it down our throats anyway. This is the same deal, and will have the same results.

    How many times do we have to shoot ourselves in the foot and say, "Gee, how did that happen?"

    If you want a prediction, though, this is a done deal. The public meetings are a sham they are legally required to put on. The real deals take place behind closed doors. ;)

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  10. "O'Connell made another important point. There's not much development going on anywhere in the state (pretty much the whole country) right now. This may be Racine's best shot at redeveloping this parcel for several years."

    This is a fairly dumb point. Just because there is no development going on in the state doesn't mean west racine should have to settle for this proposal with all of the negative ramifications it brings.

    "As for comparisons to Jacato Drive, O'Connell said there was no comparison. The Jacato Drive apartments were built to 1970s standards, which are a far cry from modern standards of quality and energy efficiency. He added that Jacato Drive was built at the end of an airport runway, while the new development is planned for a vibrant neighborhood."

    I'm sure if you asked the developer of the Jacato Drive apartments in the 70s if they would descend into the state they are in now, they would have definitely said "No." IMO, the residents of West Racine will be asking the same questions 30 years from now if this proposal goes through.

    The citizens and representatives of the citizens of Racine have a serious question to answer. Do you want your entire city turned into a ghetto with a shrinking population (and tax) base and the unfortunate few left behind unable (or unwilling) to support it? If you vote for this proposal, you are essentially saying "yes" to the above.

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  11. I agree with Orbs. Some idiot at the JTI (sorry Orbs, I know this is your gig) is complaining that the names of the petitioners who signed were released on this site. Keep up the great journalism Pete and Dustin. If someone is a coward and doesn't want their name to go public by signing a petition of all things, DUH!!!!!, then don't sign the darn thing. Rocket scientists galore in this city.

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  12. Understand that WEST RACINE HAS WON!
    God Bless America

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