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Bay View pushes for disclosure on development

Sean Ryan
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Bay View residents want the skinny on development proposals submitted for a former Army Reserve property in their Milwaukee neighborhood.

They’re not likely to get it before the project is awarded to a developer.

The Milwaukee Department of City Development’s front-runner for the project is the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee’s Eco Bay proposal for low-income senior housing in a building with 120 apartments, eight townhouses and 12 single-family homes.

The city on Friday released score sheets ranking the seven development plans it received, but it will not release more details about the other developments. The DCD said revealing plans and financing details of the other projects could influence competition among developers. That information will remain private until the city officially awards the contract.

The second-place proposal was submitted by HD Development LLC, Milwaukee. The Logan Green proposal included 103 units of lease-to-own, single-family houses and townhouses.

“We haven’t had any new real single-family housing developed in Bay View in forever,” said Patty Thompson, president of the Bay View Neighborhood Association. “Is this an opportunity that we have to build the single-family units that are so in need in our area?”

Linda Nieft, chief executive of the Bay View Community Center and one of three Bay View residents selected by the DCD to judge the development proposals, said the housing authority proposal would give aging residents the ability to remain in the neighborhood.

“I know a number of older adults that have lived in this neighborhood all of their lives who are certainly not low-income, but they are certainly not rich, and they need to sell their homes,” Nieft said.

She said the available senior housing in Bay View is either reserved for low-income residents, such as those who stay in the Lincoln Court apartments on Howell Avenue, or is too pricey.

But any new development on the property at 2372 S. Logan Ave., which has been vacant since the U.S. Army Reserve left in 2007, would be positive for the neighborhood, Nieft said.

“Physically, I like the look of what (HD Development) were doing and, quite frankly, I would be very surprised if they weren’t very close,” she said of the Eco Bay and Logan Green developments.

Thompson said the neighborhood could use more senior housing, but she said it is difficult to determine whether that is the best use of the Army Reserve site without more information about the other development plans. She argued Bay View residents should be able to see the details of the other development proposals.

“As a collective neighborhood, Bay View often gets noticed as overly involved and known to be overly involved,” Thompson said. “I realize not every decision can be made by committee, but this is a big one.”

The city released detailed information about the housing authority project — including its estimated $39.5 million cost, site layouts, renderings and the plan to use affordable-housing tax credits. But, for the other six development proposals, the city has only released the names of the developers and architects, the number and type of housing units, and the score sheets from project judging.

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