An affordable housing development for South Park Street moved a step closer to final approval on Monday.
After nearly two hours of a public hearing and discussion, Madison's Plan Commission approved developer J.T. Klein Company's revised plans for a 95-unit apartment building at 820 S. Park St. and associated zoning changes.
The development team submitted the most recent changes to the 8Twenty Park proposal to the city earlier Monday, representing a reduction of eight units from the previous version.
Earlier plans for land that includes the former site of the Madison Church Supply store included two five-story towers. That was later changed to an L-shaped building with five- and four-story elements.
The plans approved Monday by the Plan Commission on a 6-2 vote show a stepping back of the building to three stories along Haywood Drive and a resulting loss of eight units from the previous proposal.
"I think we've really spent a lot of time and a lot of iterations to get something that'll work for the neighbors, for the alder and for myself," developer Jacob Klein said.
Klein said Ald. Sara Eskrich requested a change to lower the height on the Haywood frontage, giving the project the same number of units as parking spaces.
The project "really does achieve a lot of the outcomes we hope to see on Park Street" in terms of bringing more vibrancy and people into the neighborhood, Eskrich said.
Plans call for 95 apartments, up to 80 of which are designated for households making 30 percent to 60 percent of the median area income.
The City Council on Dec. 1 approved $1.25 million from an affordable housing fund for the first phase of the project, a five-story element of 56 affordable units and 11 market-rate apartments along South Park Street and Delaplaine Court.
Klein also said he plans to apply for Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority tax credits.
The second phase includes 28 units, up to 24 of which are classified as affordable, in a three-and-four-story layout along the western and southern part of the property, near a row of five single-family houses.
Three of those houses would be demolished and replaced by two houses from Delaplaine Court and one from Haywood Drive; two other houses on Haywood would be demolished.
The zoning change requested in the proposal limits the Brooks Street houses to a family with one unrelated roomer rather than allowing for five unrelated individuals, which commissioner Bradley Cantrell lauded as creating a "very permanent edge for this residential neighborhood."
Eight nearby residents spoke against the project Monday, with some contending that the neighborhood didn't have as much say in the process as the development team said.
Jason Hagenow told the commission that he manages Section 8 affordable housing but that the 8Twenty Park project doesn't make sense in that it creates a pocket of low-income residents against housing trends.
"I am so in favor of affordable housing that it makes me sick to be opposed to this project," he said.
Marissa Burack used cutouts to represent the large size of the proposal compared to other recently approved apartment developments in the neighborhood. She said none encroaches into the neighborhood as much as Klein's project.
The proposal requires a rezoning of land designated for low-density residential housing in both the city's 2006 comprehensive plan and the 2010 Greenbush Neighborhood Plan.
The city Planning Division's report acknowledged that the line between low and high density would move 120 to 160 feet farther into the neighborhood but said the project as a whole was within many of the recommendations in approved city plans.
The development team said the redrawing of the zoning line would better align it with blocks to the north and south, but Burack argued against that line of thinking.
"Playing connect the dots where it's convenient is not a precedent we should be setting," she said.
The proposal also drew seven people speaking in favor, including four members of the development team.
Area resident Nate Warnke, who will open a brewpub in a new development at 444 S. Park St. next year, said to help revitalize the Greenbush and Bay Creek neighborhoods, the city needs to attract young professionals who want to live there.
"Even thought it's not perfect and there are concerns, I think there are more pros than cons in this development," Warnke said.
Cantrell said he saw the project as part of the larger redevelopment of the South Park Street corridor.
"It's part of the plan," he said, "and this fits into that."
Commissioners Michael Heifetz and Melissa Berger voted against the project Monday.
Heifetz said he didn't think the proposal met two conditional use standards: related to the impairment of the uses, values and enjoyment of nearby property and impeding ordinary development of surrounding property. The project rings an auto body shop on the corner of Park and Haywood that isn't part of the development.
The neighborhood "needs new development. It needs new housing," he said. "But that doesn't mean any proposal meets our standards. I'm sympathetic to neighbor concerns on this."
The project includes 95 parking spaces, 84 of them underground, and 2,000 square feet of commercial space scheduled to be used as headquarters for J.T. Klein Company. It needs final approval from both the Urban Design Commission and the City Council.