Madison community unites for change
Madison leaders knew something had to be done about Allied Drive, one of the roughest neighborhoods in the city.
When it was plotted in the early 1960s, the area was popular housing for University of Wisconsin-Madison students. But over the years, the neighborhood had increasing issues with safety and security.
In 2006, the city bought buildings and land in the neighborhood at a debt relief sale, landing a total of 145 units on 11.5 acres. With plans to redevelop the area, the city formed the Allied Area Task Force to answer the long-term needs of the community.
Planners wanted change on Allied Drive, but they wanted the change with the support and help of residents, said Randy Handel, vice president of McGann Construction Inc., Madison.
Redevelopment started with the $6.5 million Revival Ridge project, completed in October 2009 with 48 units of multifamily affordable housing. The second phase, coming in the next few years, will include about 60 single-family homes.
Starting in December 2008, McGann staggered the construction process so crews were digging and excavating in one area while others were framing or doing interior work elsewhere, Handel said.
“At one point in time, we had just about every phase of construction going on,” he said.
There were many crew members working on construction, but the city required people from the neighborhood be given jobs on site as well.
Handel said about 15 area residents were given jobs and assigned to different contractors and subcontractors. Some worked with the HVAC crews, others with plumbers or painters. Though they had minimal experience, the neighborhood crew members were eager to help, he said.
“All these different trades were hiring a new worker,” Handel said.
Everyone involved, Handel said, blended the new hires and their training and mentoring needs into the project’s schedule. There was no guarantee of continued employment, but Handel said there are several people from the neighborhood McGann likely will contact again.
The company already is considering the same type of program on several upcoming jobs, Handel said.
“(The workers) all had a good attitude,” he said, “and (a) willingness to learn.”