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New proposals keep low-cost housing clustered together in Judge Doyle Square project

New proposals keep low-cost housing clustered together in Judge Doyle Square project

Judge Doyle Square - Gebhardt project

Gebhardt Development's proposed nine-story, mixed-use project would sit above a city-owned parking structure that's part of the massive Judge Doyle Square redevelopment Downtown. 

The developer picked to complete a portion of the Judge Doyle Square project Downtown is again proposing to cluster low-cost apartments on three floors rather that spreading them throughout the building as the city requested.

Last month, the city’s Finance Committee asked Gebhardt Development to offer proposals for scattering the subsidized units among the market-rate apartments planned for the nine-story building on the block that holds the Madison Municipal Building.

The company came back with proposals that did that, but which drove up the cost by as much as $2.4 million.

Now, in two new options to be discussed in a closed session of the Finance Committee Monday, Gebhardt is proposing to go back to its original plan of consolidating the units into a single condominium, which simplifies the financing process, Gebhardt development manager Lee Christensen said last month.

The new proposals would also result in fewer subsidized apartments — 65 or 71 units instead of the originally proposed 78. The apartments would be set aside for residents or families making at or below 60% of the Dane County median income — about $53,240 for a family of three.

Neither the units nor the common spaces on those floors would be constructed any differently from the comparable market-rate apartments on other floors, Gebhardt business director Michael Carter wrote in a memo to the committee.

“For example, if you live in a one-bedroom affordable unit your finishes will be the same as your neighbors living in a market-rate one-bedroom,” Carter wrote.

Residents of the subsidized units would also have access to the same amenities as the market-rate apartment residents, Carter wrote. Those would include a gym and recreation rooms along with resident events hosted by Gebhardt’s property management team.

City officials did not return requests for comment Friday.

According to previously filed proposals with the city, distributing the originally proposed 78 low-cost units throughout the building would cost the city about $2.4 million more than planned. Reducing the number of subsidized units in the mix would still cost the city and taxpayers up to $720,000 more.

Gebhardt’s new proposals also address problems with building atop the base that the city has already constructed.

The developer had planned to use engineered wood for the building frame, but that material is not yet recognized by state building code and cannot be used. Yet, creating the frame out of concrete would add substantially to the weight, requiring more supports be added to the parking garage and commercial space currently under construction. The added work would increase the development’s cost and timeline.

The committee asked the developer to consider whether using steel for the frame would alleviate the weight and cost concerns.

Gebhardt’s proposals would use both steel and concrete, but both would still require modifications to the base layers.

Taken together, Gebhardt is proposing two new options for the project:

  • 208 residential units, 71 of which would be allocated for people making 60% of the county’s median income. But modifications would need to be made to 12 foundations and 12 columns, and two walls would need to be added on the lowest level of the garage, for a total added cost of about $1 million.
  • 169 residential units, 65 of which would be allocated for people making 60% of the county’s median income. Modifications would be made to five foundations and five columns, plus the additional walls in the parking garage. Those modifications would add about $500,000 to the overall cost.

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