After delaying plans last year, two nonprofits have refined a proposal for a development at Union Corners on Madison’s east side.
The project from developer Movin’ Out, Inc. would create 38 units of mixed-income housing with a new commercial space for Red Caboose Child Care Center.
Movin' Out is a developer that provides affordable housing with a focus on adults with disabilities, families including a member with a disability and veterans. Red Caboose, 654 Williamson St., is an independent nonprofit, and has been providing child care for over 40 years.
Last year, Red Caboose partnered with Movin’ Out to propose a five-story building with 13,000 square-foot ground-floor commercial space for Red Caboose, 48 units of affordable housing, and 30 underground parking stalls near the intersection of 6th Street and East Washington Avenue.
At that point, neighbors had concerns about the height, and were worried there wasn’t enough parking on site. Those problems stemmed from the site’s small size, said Kathryne Auerback, executive director of Movin’ Out, Inc.
The project had applied for money from the city’s Affordable Housing Fund, but then withdrew from consideration and delayed the project by a year. That was partially to work out the issues of the cramped site and partially because the deadlines for funding were pushing the project along too quickly, Auerback said.
“It was just very rushed and we had very preliminary ideas about the design,” Auerback said.
New plans address parking and height concerns and downsize the number of units from 48 to 38. Movin’ Out has gained control of two adjacent parcels, which allows them to design a building with a larger footprint and fewer stories.
The bigger footprint also allows for additional underground parking, upping the number of underground spaces to 53, along with a seven-stall surface parking lot.
About eight apartments would be supportive units for adults with disabilities, families including a member with a disability and veterans.
There would be some market-rate units, along with units that limit tenants to those making up to 30, 50 or 60% of the area median income. For an individual in 2018, that would be someone making between $19,250 and $38,520 a year. For a family of four, 30 to 60% of area median income would be between $27,500 and $55,020.
The development would be built with about 14,000 square feet of usable space on the ground floor for Red Caboose, but with an additional 7,000 square feet ready for a Red Caboose expansion, said Lisa Fiala, executive director of Red Caboose.
Last week, Alds. Marsha Rummel and Syed Abbas hosted a neighborhood meeting on the proposal. Abbas said the neighborhood meeting went “pretty well.” There were questions about whether there would be adequate parking, especially for dropping off and picking up kids from child care, he said, but the majority of attendees seemed curious about and pleased with the project.
Red Caboose has long been looking to expand its space. The center has capacity for 60 kids, but about 125 are on an ever-growing waiting list, Fiala told the Cap Times last July.
In 2016, Red Caboose bought the property at 2340 Winnebago St. from the city for its future expansion.
Fiala previously said Red Caboose was drawn to Winnebago Street and Union Corners because of the socioeconomic diversity of the area. The organization’s makeup is about 30% kids from low-income families, 30% from moderate-income families and 30% high-income families.
Fiala said she’s excited about the project because it will mean a partnership with another “strong, mission-based organization” and access to a main thoroughfare.
Living in the same building means the two nonprofits may eventually collaborate on programming, but at the very least, there are obvious benefits to having a child care center in an apartment building, Auerback said.
“I know when I had really young children it would have been extremely convenient to have their child care right downstairs,” Auerback said. “I remember many, many, many years of just mad rushing to squeeze in the drop-off between the time child care opened and the time I’m supposed to be at work.”
The project will apply for the city’s AHF fund and for Section 42 tax credits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.
If granted city approvals and funding, Movin’ Out and Red Caboose would plan to break ground in spring of 2021.