Commission endorses housing, TID expansion

By: 
Kurt Gutknecht

The Plan Commission gave its endorsement to several housing projects this week, forwarding the ideas to the Common Council.

If the council agrees with the commission, developers can bring back more specific plans for approval next month.

Among the projects getting the commission’s OK on Aug. 20 was a proposal to build as many as 82 apartments at the intersection of Nesbitt Road and Fitchrona Road in the 105-acre Orchard Pointe development.

Because the change requires an amendment to both the city’s comprehensive plan and Orchard Pointe’s planned-unit development, it has required several steps of approvals. The council is scheduled to consider a comprehensive plan amendment Aug. 27.

Several Madison residents were concerned the apartment buildings would obstruct their view. While the buildings haven’t yet been designed, the developer said the changes  in elevation and a nearby park would shield the buildings from view. He said trees and other vegetation would screen the apartments from adjacent Town of Verona residents.

The topography of the site and other factors made it unsuitable for retail development, as originally designated. Developer Michael Johnson said he had 35 years of development experience and would retain ownership and management of the apartments and include on-site management.

The city’s planning department didn’t endorse the change in use, citing concerns with compatibility with adjacent single family homes and the lack of nearby parks, but Ald. Steve Arnold said the apartments would ensure Orchard Pointe incorporated mixed uses and would aid local businesses.

Commissioner Ed Kinney said the city had few developments immediately adjacent to other municipalities and was pleased with the measures “to make sure we’re a good neighbor.”

 

Swan Creek

The Commission also approved plans for a mix of apartments, duplexes, single-family homes and condos on several lots in Swan Creek. This includes 95 apartments in two buildings on one lot, and 114 dwelling units on two other lots.

The plans represented a shift from commercial development, which the developer said wasn’t economically feasible.

 

New restaurant

Also approved were plans for a restaurant and other as yet unspecified businesses on a lot owned by Target in the Orchard Pointe shopping center. Construction would begin immediately, pending approval by the Common Council on Aug. 27.

Developers made several changes to meet requirements of the city and Target following their initial request to the Plan Commission in April.

 

TID 6

The Commission also endorsed a plan to add about 180 acres to Tax Increment District No. 6, which incorporates the area west of Verona Road and south of McKee Road (including Orchard Pointe). The added area is north and east of the Verona Road-McKee Road intersection, and west of Seminole Highway.

Jim Mann with Ehlers, the city’s financial adviser, the plan would involve a maximum of $17 million in improvements, including new roads that would make a large tract suitable for development. The improvements should trigger new residential and commercial development worth $24 million and result in 175 jobs paying $18-$22 per hour.

Without the amendment, TID No. 6 is on track to close in 2014. The amended TID would close in 2025, a date Mann said was based on conservative estimates of economic growth. The plan also includes several benchmarks, which, if not met, could result in an earlier closing date.

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