Gorman project

Pending approvals and financing, Gorman and Co. could begin work on an East Washington Avenue low-income housing project in mid-2019. It would replace the empty Messner building.

A Dane County committee decided Monday to move ahead with the original proposal for a low-income housing project targeted at veterans amid concerns that setting aside units for homeless families could slow the project down.

The Personnel and Finance Committee voted to confirm Gorman and Co.’s plans to construct a $15.1 million, five-story building — called Valor on Washington — at the former Messner Inc. property, 1326 E. Washington Ave. Of the 64 units, only 10 would be market rate and the rest would be designated for veterans and their families making less than 30 percent, 50 percent and 60 percent of the county median income.

Last month, Sup. Heidi Wegleitner, whose 2nd District includes the county-owned Messner property, offered an amendment that would set aside eight units for homeless families on the county’s Homeless Services Consortium priority list, regardless of veteran status.

But she withdrew her amendment prior to Monday’s meeting.

County Board Chairwoman Sharon Corrigan said there were concerns that since setting aside units for the homeless wasn’t included in the county’s request for proposals sent out last summer, the inclusion of those units now could require the county to re-solicit proposals from developers.

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Wegleitner said she withdrew the amendment so as not to delay the timing of the project, but added that she hopes Gorman will consider homeless families when renting the units.

Additionally, Wegleitner said she is pursuing an ordinance that would require 12 percent of units in projects financed through the county’s Affordable Housing Fund be designated for homeless individuals or families.

Gorman’s proposal also creates an 11,000-square-foot space for Dryhootch, a veterans support organization, on the first floor, where the organization would also operate a coffee shop open to the public.

The County Board will vote Thursday on whether to confirm the developer and the project. A ground lease and contract with the county, city of Madison land use approvals and public-assisted financing would need to be secured before construction could start in mid-2019.

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