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Bay View projects on chopping block (UPDATE)

By Sean Ryan

A Milwaukee alderman wants the city to reject seven redevelopment proposals for a vacant lot in Bay View.

That includes a $39.5 million development plan submitted by the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, which a panel of judges selected by the city chose as the best of the seven responses to the 2008 request for proposals.

Alderman Tony Zielinski, who represents the Bay View neighborhood, said the city is better off starting over.

“They’re not doing anything,” he said of the housing authority, “and I just can’t let the land sit fallow like that.”

Paul Williams, the housing authority’s communications coordinator, said he will not comment on Zielinski’s proposal to reject the development. The plan, he said, has not changed since the authority submitted the proposal almost a year ago, and the authority still is awaiting a decision by the Milwaukee Common Council.

The city in November 2008 requested development proposals for a 5.6 acre property that has been vacant since a U.S Army Reserve base closed in 2007. But Bay View residents and their alderman are not satisfied with the submitted proposals and are not afraid to oppose them until something better comes along, said Patty Thompson, president of the Bay View Neighborhood Association.

“We’re an involved neighborhood,” she said. “We try to do our best to be thinking bigger and think of how this could really look, and we’re not just going to sit back and let something get put on our plate.”

Zielinski next month will ask the Common Council to reject the seven development plans and send out a new request for proposals. He said he wants people who live in the neighborhood to provide more input so a second RFP can offer clear guidelines to developers.

“There was some community input and feedback back into the project,” he said of the first RFP process, “but the question arises on how much input is enough.”

Bay View residents rallied against the housing authority’s redevelopment plan.

“It wasn’t public input,” Thompson said. “It was public outcry.”

The authority proposed 12 single-family houses, eight townhouses and two buildings with up to 125 affordable-housing apartments for seniors.

Thompson said Bay View residents do not like the housing authority proposal.

Providing cheap senior housing in the neighborhood is important, she said, but the authority’s plan has too many apartments reserved for low-income seniors. The project should have a balance of market-rate houses, condos and apartments, she said.

“How do you make this a nice, multigenerational opportunity, which is also mixed income?” Thompson said.

According to the city’s request for proposals for the property, the project must generate renewable energy and have between 75 and 150 residential units. But the RFP did not specify the type of housing — affordable or market-rate, for example, Thompson said. A new RFP should be more specific, she said.

Zielinski said if he can persuade his fellow aldermen to reject the development proposals, he will hold meetings in Bay View and could send out a revised request for development plans in March or April.

“Time is valuable here,” he said, “and we need to get my constituency involved to come up with a plan.”

One comment

  1. This is just unfortunate, and it’s pretty clear why HACM hasn’t started any construction. It is because the file has yet to be approved by the Common Council… What’s holding it up?

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