Villages on Main

After two years of discussions, the Waunakee Village Board approved a development agreement with Tax Incremental Financing and several requirements for the Cohen-Esrey Development Group. Construction is slated for this summer.

After two years of meetings related to an affordable-housing proposal in Waunakee, the village board approved a development agreement and a request for Tax Incremental Finance assistance Monday.

“This has been a long one in the works,” Village President Chris Zellner said after the unanimous vote in favor. “I’m proud that we’re at this point finally and happy that we were able to get to this point.”

The 50-unit Villages on Main apartment complex, planned for 701-705 W. Main Street, will include workforce housing, with rents targeted for working families earning 30-60% of the median income. Ten of the 50 units will be rented at market rate.

The Cohen-Esrey Development Group received a Low Income Housing Tax Credit from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) for the project, and the board approved changes to the development agreement that integrated WHEDA’s requirements for the tax credit. Those relate to the number of units set at affordable rent prices, the length of time they must remain so, and a fund for property maintenance.

WHEDA requires developers receiving LIHTC grants to retain a fund, and according to the formula, it would be just under $25,000, Bryan Kleinmaier, the village’s attorney explained.

Kleinmaier outlined other proposed changes to the agreement made since the board last reviewed it. Under the agreement, the developer is required to install a sidewalk along Main Street to the east and dedicate land for a sidewalk to the west. The board determined that a sidewalk west, to no destination, was not desirable but at some point, could be installed to the rear of the building and extended to the O’Malley conservancy.

The developer requested that the 30-year agreement to repay the village for the sidewalk be shortened to 20 years to correspond with WHEDA’s tax credit agreement.

“Will the village have made up its mind on this extension issue, whether it’s a path or a sidewalk, within the next 20 years, or do you want that additional 10 years to still be able to make that decision?” Kleinmaier said.

If 25 years from now, the village wants the sidewalk, it would not have the agreement in place.

Trustee Nila Frye asked that the provision in the agreement extend 30 years.

Zellner said asked if the village could track the need for a sidewalk.

“I think it’s anticipated we’re going to do something there from a path perspective,” Zellner said.

In the end, the board agreed to a 25-year sidewalk provision.

The agreement also calls for providing 75% of an affordable housing Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) extension. Earlier this year, the board voted in favor of extending TIF district No. 2 to create an affordable-housing fund. The most recent estimated value of that district from the financial consulting firm, Ehlers, was approximately $435,000. Cohen-Esrey will receive $326,600. It will be an interest-free loan, and the agreement calls for the developer to repay 50% within 20 years. If Cohen-Esrey violates the agreement, the developer will be required to repay the entire amount.

Asked about the construction timeline, Brian Sweeney, Cohen-Esrey’s development director, said the hope is to close on 701 and 705 W. Main Street at the end of May or early June and begin construction as soon as possible. The estimated construction time is 12-18 months.

“From a marketing-of-the-units perspective, you don’t want to open up in December. You want to open up when the weather is good, and people are moving,” Sweeney said.

Other business

Also at the meeting, the board:

-approved a resolution recognizing Arbor Day.

-approved a 20-unit condominium plat for Arboretum Village at the corner of Hogan Road and Quinn Drive.

-heard an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Bill Ranum noted that vaccination rates are increasing but the hospitals are seeing more younger patients with the virus. Village Administrator Todd Schmidt said he hopes to bring a proposal to the board for hybrid village meetings that could be both in-person but remotely accessible. Federal COVID-relief funding for the technology could possibly be utilized for the technology.

-approved an agreement to have three tennis courts and one sport court reviewed for upcoming resurfacing or crack filling projects.

-approved a one-year extension of a certified survey map for the property on Century Avenue where Kwik Trip had planned to build.

-approved the first addition to Heritage Hills and the second phase of the developers agreement.

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