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Madison committee recommends leasing facility for COVID-19 needs

Madison committee recommends leasing facility for COVID-19 needs

Karmenta Center (copy) (copy)

Madison could lease the former Karmenta Center at 4502 Milwaukee St. to house individuals or families in need of medical isolation or those who need housing. 

Madison could lease a vacant building previously uses as a skilled nursing facility on the east side as an option for temporary shelter in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The city's Finance Committee on Tuesday recommended leasing the 36,192-square-foot facility at 4502 Milwaukee St. from Watson Smith LLC, with the option to purchase the property at the end of the two-year lease.   

Madison aims to use the property to house individuals or families in need of medical isolation or those who need housing.

“It’s really trying to find ways we can isolate or minimize contact for folks,” Dan Rolfs, a city real estate development specialist, said.  

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The property used to be the Karmenta Center nursing home, which closed in 2019 amid other statewide shutdowns. The site includes 55 rooms, many of which have capacity for two people.

The resolution would amend the city's land acquisition budget by $900,000 over two years to pay for the lease. The City Council would be required to authorize future purchase of the property. 

Community Development Director Jim O’Keefe said the short-term need for temporary shelter has lessened as Dane County utilized more hotel rooms for this need.

Since the pandemic began spreading in the community, Madison and Dane County have housed those who are homeless in hotels and providing safer accommodations to those with COVID-19 symptoms. The city has also implemented a new overnight shelter for single men at Warner Park.  

In the long-term, the property is seen as an attractive site for redevelopment. 

“I think it’s safe to say that, not just the city, but others have eyed that property as a potential site for affordable housing longer term,” O’Keefe said. 

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to tctvoice@madison.com. Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

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