POSTED ON OCTOBER 14th, 2008
Avenue Project’ proposed for North Ave Gateway District
Rent-to-own homes, apartment rentals would guide new homebuyers
The City of Milwaukee and North Avenue Community Development Corporation announced today a proposed ‘Avenue Project’ to expand affordable housing options in the Metcalfe Park/Washington Park neighborhood and add mixed-use development along West North Avenue in the Gateway Main Street District.
Under the proposal, North Avenue Community Development Corporation would develop ‘Avenue Homes,’ 20 single-family rent-to-own homes on city-owned lots in the vicinity of N. 32nd Street and W. Garfield Ave, and ‘Avenue Lofts,’ a mixed-use project on privately-owned blighted sites at 32nd Street and W. North Avenue.
The Avenue Homes would offer families the opportunity to rent a 3-bedroom home with a garage and all appliances included. After a successful rental period, the homes would be sold to the family at a price that results in a mortgage payment at or below their current rent payment.
The Avenue Lofts would bring 3,800 square feet of new neighborhood-serving retail in a 3-story building and include 4 three-bedroom apartments affordably priced for families living in the area.
Renee Booker, President / CEO of the North Avenue Community Development Corporation, said families living in both developments will be offered guidance and counseling on becoming homeowners. He hopes to attract teachers, police officers and other professionals to buy in the neighborhood as well.
“We’re responding to the foreclosure crisis by developing housing that can move more of our families towards responsible, affordable homeownership,” Booker said. “By offering this opportunity to turn a dream into an affordable reality, we believe we’re building a stronger community that will work hard to keep our neighborhood strong."
Avenue Homes would be the second ‘rent-to-own’ home ownership opportunity in Milwaukee. Metcalfe Park Homes, a City of Milwaukee partnership with Gorman & Company, offers 30 rent-to-own homes in the neighborhood. Both projects are based on a similar model in Cleveland. A recent study of the Cleveland model indicated that 90 percent of families that were part of the rent-to-own program eventually became the owners of their rental homes.
Mayor Tom Barrett said the Avenue Project would boost several ‘Stronger Neighborhoods’ initiatives underway in the Metcalfe Park neighborhood, from the Main Street Milwaukee program to the Targeted Investment Neighborhood and new homes project in the surrounding residential area.
“We are working with strong partners like Renee Booker and the North Avenue Community Development Corporation to bring about real change in the lives of Metcalfe Park residents,” said Mayor Barrett. “Anyone who drives down West North Avenue will see a number of new developments to serve the neighborhood.”
Since 1998, North Avenue Community Development Corporation (NACDC) has worked with the City of Milwaukee to bring nearly $13 million of development to the North Avenue Corridor, representing new jobs, businesses and homes. Currently, all of NACDC’s commercial properties are 90% to 100% leased and its residential portfolio maintains occupancy in the high 90% range. Several of its non-tax credit properties have been sold to business owners that now own their space.
Toussaint Square, one of several recent developments in the area by NACDC in
partnership with the City of Milwaukee
"The Avenue Project represents a significant opportunity for the Gateway District -- and North Avenue, as a whole -- to take another important step forward," said Common Council President Hines. "North Avenue CDC has put together a strategic plan that not only stimulates high-quality residential growth, but also opens the door for more single-family homes, which will stabilize certain neighborhoods behind the commercial corridor.”
Predevelopment assistance for the Avenue Project was provided by Local Initiatives Support Corporation. The project will also be assisted with a $5.5 million tax credit allocation from Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.
"This development is one of many affordable housing deals that WHEDA has allocated tax credits to in and around North Avenue,” said Antonio Riley, WHEDA’s Executive Director. “We are so happy to be working with the City of Milwaukee and the North Avenue CDC, both of which have shown great leadership and commitment to this neighborhood. With high-quality, WHEDA-funded developments like Columbia Square and Touissant Square, the North Avenue CDC has shown time and again they are in tune with the communities needs."
The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) will consider a land assembly proposal for the Avenue Project at its next meeting on
Thursday, October 16th.