Former Shopko parking lot joins Green Bay sites for affordable housing

GREEN BAY – Affordable housing could be the next addition to the evolving West Side business corridor along Military Avenue.

A Madison developer is working on plans to build an affordable four-story apartment building in the parking lot of the original Shopko store on Military Avenue. The project has secured state tax credits critical to affordable housing development and the City of Green Bay plans to review plans for the project next month, although final details continue to take shape.

Bay City Lofts would be located on the northeast corner of the lot at 216 S. Military Ave., the original Shopko store. The 48-unit project received $800,000 in federal housing tax credits from WHEDA earlier this year and would reserve 40 units, or 83% of the project, for low-income households who earn significantly less than the median income of the region.

The developer, Gorman & Co., would partner with Lutheran Social Services, recipients of WHEDA credits, to develop on-site supportive housing services at Bay City Lofts.

Affordable housing is for residents who earn less than a certain percentage of the Green Bay area median income, which is about $82,000 for a household of four. But what level of income is not specified in the available project documents.

The Green Bay Plan Commission was due to consider a zoning application related to the site on Monday, but the application was postponed until the commission’s December 12 meeting.

Neil Stechschulte, director of economic development for the city of Green Bay, said city staff are continuing to review project details, such as land use issues like parking and access, as well as the public financial aid for development. He expects the zoning application to be considered in December. A development deal between the city and Gorman could also be considered in December, but could take until early 2023 to finalize, he said.

Representatives for Gorman and Lutheran Social Services did not return messages asking for further details.

A rendering of the entrance to Bay City Lofts, a 48-unit apartment building that developers want to build in Shopko's former parking lot on South Military Avenue.  The view looking west from Military Avenue.

The military avenue, focused on retail, can “absorb” housing

The building would include 13 one-bedroom units, 24 two-bedroom units and 11 three-bedroom units. Ten of the three-bedroom units would be furnished in a townhouse style.

The 1.1 acre site, southwest of the South Military Avenue-Leo Street intersection, would add affordable housing to the heart of the Military Avenue Business District. The West Side district includes stops on two Green Bay Metro bus routes, a grocery store, restaurants, pharmacies, farmers markets and recreational opportunities within walking distance of the site. Leah Weycker, executive director of the Military Avenue business district, said the housing would complement existing amenities in the predominantly commercial neighborhood.

“I’m excited to have more housing here. We can absorb it,” Weycker said.

The West Side shopping district has seen a wave of development and a few demolitions this year. at Arby’s, scooter cafe, and Caribou Coffee have built new spaces and Petco has leased space in the same building as off-price retailer Burlington. The long date The Sears building was demolished this fall too.

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An apartment building would align with a long-term redevelopment plan drawn up last fall between the city and the owners of the property, owners of HJ Martin and Son, Ed and David Martin. The Martins purchased the 125,000 square foot building in March 2020, less than a year after the Shopko store closed in April 2019.

In the fall of 2021, the Martins sought approval from the city to use the building for industrial purposes, which was not permitted under the site’s commercial zoning. In September 2021, the Martins reached an agreement with the city which allowed industrial uses at the site for three years with two one-year extensions, if the Martins continued to work on identifying long-term commercial and residential uses for the site.

HJ Martin and Son continues to use the space as a warehouse to help with supply chain challenges and as a training center for its new commercial installers. Bellin Health also leases part of the building.

Stechschulte said Bay City Lofts would align with the spirit of this agreement and provide a visual screen for the former big box space’s industrial uses.

“It goes a long way toward meeting that obligation,” Stechschulte said. “If it works, it could be a model we try elsewhere in the city.”

An aerial view of the Bay City Lofts site at South Military Avenue and Leo Street.  The 48-unit building would occupy part of Shopko's original parking lot at 216 S. Military Ave.

These aren’t the only affordable housing plans Green Bay is considering

Bay City Lofts isn’t the only affordable housing project under development in Green Bay.

Private and non-profit organizations have at least three other affordable housing proposals now entering the final stages of evaluation that would help meet the area’s continued need for more affordable apartments and homes for households in low income.

The 2020 Green Bay Housing Market Study found that the metro area needs to add 3,300 to 7,400 rental units by 2040 to meet projected demand. The area specifically suffers from a severe shortage of units that families earning less than $26,000 a year can afford without being “cost-burdened,” that is, spending more than 30% of their monthly housing budget.

The Green Bay Redevelopment Authority on Tuesday approved Journey to adult success‘ is asking to build three attached three-bedroom townhouses at the corner of East Walnut and Baird Streets to provide housing for young adults who would otherwise be homeless upon release from foster care. Journey to Adult Success helps them transition into adulthood and independence. The three townhouses would be built across Baird Street from Green Bay East High School and the city’s deal includes $120,000 in city affordable housing grants to help fill a difference in construction costs.

The RDA has also approved a condition sheet and financial assistance to help Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity build 14 owner-occupied units on a vacant 3-acre lot where Ricky Drive and Richmond Street end. Habitat would build single-family homes, attached townhouses, and up to two handicap-accessible homes. The term sheet has yet to be finalized and approved, but it calls for the city to provide Habitat with approximately $200,000 in home construction assistance funding and to allocate $450,000 in additional tax funding district, or TIF, to build a new road that would serve the site.

Stechschulte also said the city hopes to finalize a development agreement with the Rice Lake-based affordable housing developer by the end of this year. impact seven. The company proposed to build a $60 million multi-building housing complex at the former Badger Sheet Metal site, 420 S. Broadway. The project would include 98 one-bedroom, 116 two-bedroom and 24 three-bedroom units, some of which would be reserved for low-income households.

Contact Jeff Bollier at (920) 431-8387 or[email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffBollier.

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