Waunakee Village Board members are exploring the potential of selling village-owned land on Reeve Drive where Country View Apartments is located.
The village has leased the property to Heartland Properties since 1994 when the affordable senior apartment complex was built. It sits between the EMS Station and the grocery store, and was the pervious location for the Waunakee Senior Center.
At their May 3 meeting, the village board discussed a letter to the village administrator from Heartland-Waunakee, LLC, indicating their desire to update the property. The letter states that the property is in need of extensive exterior improvements, including window, patio door and siding replacement, and balcony reconstruction.
The Heartland-Waunakee plans to invest approximately $762,000 in the improvements.
“This is a substantial investment, obviously, but one we are happy to make, if we can be assured of our long-term ownership of the property,” the letter states.
An appraisal done in 2007 calculated the fair market value at $402,000; the letter from Heartland estimates that with inflation, the value is now $500,000.
Board members indicated they believed the property is worth more.
“The price looked cheap,” said Trustee Phil Willems, “$500,000 is a little light.”
Trustee Nila Frye asked if the village would receive a guarantee that the rental prices would remain affordable. She requested to see the village’s lease with Heartland-Waunakee.
Trustee Sam Kaufmann agreed, saying the board should be sure to keep the building affordable for older adults.
“I like the idea that someone is making an investment back into an existing property and updating it, so I think we ought to do an appraisal,” Trustee Gary Herzberg said.
Village Attorney Bryan Kleinmaier said he believed the Heartland-Waunakee has a contract stipulating the affordable rent prices, but that could change.
Finance Director Renee Meinholz noted that Heartland-Waunakee pays $29,000 in taxes to the village for the building along with personal property taxes. The village-owned land on which the complex sits is tax exempt. Should Heartland-Waunakee purchase the land, it would pay approximately $3,000 in annual taxes. Currently, it pays an annual rent to the village of $12,000.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the board:
-passed a resolution honoring World Migratory Bird Day. Jeff Karls of Waunakee’s Public Works Department, noted that volunteers are building 14 bluebird nesting boxes to be installed throughout the Bolz and Castle Creek conservancies and Ripp Park Prairie.
-approved the annual renewal of park impact fees.
-heard an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. The Waunakee village board, like other governmental bodies, is trying to find a way to meet in person again while ensuring those who have not been vaccinated for COVID-19 can attend and maintain distance. Village Administrator Todd Schmidt said he expects to have a report to the board at the next meeting May 17. The village will need to comply with open meetings laws as it returns to in-person meetings, Schmidt said.
-discussed the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives. The work by UniverCity students is coming to a close as the class is completing the year. Programs have been held at the library and another is planned for May 6. Village President Chris Zellner said the students’ engagement and the Ho-Chunk sharing their heritage has been a “really nice way for the community to hear things, and we will continue to do that.” The May 6 Zoom program at the library will feature Ho-Chunk community members who will discuss the tribe’s history along with contemporary issues. For more information, visit the library’s calendar at waunakeepubliclibrary.org. Also, Schmidt and Zellner met with the Madison Chinese-American Organization at their request to learn about acts of hate perpetuated against them currently.
-approved committee appointments.