City staff says proposed affordable housing complex is needed in Middleton, but neighbors oppose it

City staff says proposed affordable housing complex is needed in Middleton, but neighbors oppose it

The city of Middleton is moving forward with plans for an affordable housing complex, but the plans are different from what the developer was asking for.

Last week, the Middleton Common Council passed a plan for a three-story complex with 39 units. The development is called The Addison and would be on University Avenue directly across from the Willy Street Co-Op at a site where developer Anthony Gray currently has an office.

The council rejected Gray’s original plan of four stories with a vote of 4-4. Mayor Gurdip Brar cast the deciding vote to vote the project down.

“My reason for voting ‘no’ was to reach a compromise, and you want to see what’s best for the whole city,” Brar said.

He said every building in the area is under four stories and called the three-story proposal a “great compromise.”

City staff says proposed affordable housing complex is needed in Middleton, but neighbors oppose it

Gray said he wanted four stories in order to keep the current structure in place.

“It really has to do with this beautiful turn of the century limestone cottage that we currently use as our headquarters,” he said. “With three stories, it will clearly require the removal of this beautiful home.”

A number of people who live and work near the proposed site voiced their opposition at the common council meeting.

“People up in the second, third and fourth floors would be able to watch our children play on the streets,” one neighbor said.

Another one said, “I’m concerned what it will do to their property values, as well.”

One business owner said, “It will add to traffic congestion on University Avenue.”

The mayor said he supports the three-story project and believes people of all kinds would rent from the complex, and neighbors should welcome the diversity.

“I’m hoping this project will be done. (Gray) will be the first developer who is an African-American, which is wonderful. You need diversity among developers as well. Middleton wants diversity, and I guess diversity is coming everywhere,” Brar said.

During the council meeting, Gray argued that he needs a certain amount of units to make the project economically feasible, but council members said they are willing to make it work.

“He can have his 39 units, which is what he said he needed to make the finances work, but he’d just have to come up with a different configuration for the building,” said Alder Kathy Olson from District 1.

Olson voted against the four-story proposal but voted for the three-story plan.

“We really need the affordable housing. We’re all for the affordable housing, and it’s a great location for it — on the bus line, all good things there,” Olson said.

City officials are now hoping to sit down with Gray and make the project work.

“I think going forward we want to work with Anthony and make sure that we actually have a good development because it’s a good site and a successful project,” Brar said.

That is something Gray said he wants, as well, saying he “accepts” the council’s decision.

“The next steps are for me to talk with the architects and the financial folks. We have to find a way to make the structure feasible at three stories,” Gray said.

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