The timeline and plan for the city’s 39-acre housing development at the corner of Knapp and 15th streets were somewhat clearer following a meeting of the city council on Thursday, Sept. 9.
The council looked at two proposals; one from S.C. Swiderski and another from Northpointe Development. The council decided that Swiderski’s better fit the city’s needs and goals.
Swiderski’s proposed plan calls for 109 units, which includes 17 single-family homes, four duplexes and 84 units in multi-family buildings. The 84 units were included in two six-unit buildings, six four-unit buildings and three 16-unit apartment buildings (with a mix of one, two and three bedrooms). The single-family homes would be built along Knapp Street and sold off. The multi-family buildings would become rentals owned by Swiderski and sit in the middle of the property.
Council member Terry Hight asked about projected rental fees.
Northpointe’s rents were projected to be lower by using various tax credits to attain a mix of low, moderate and average income units. But that would also diminish the projected tax increment for the TID. Swiderski’s rents would be slightly higher, but so would the land values.
The issue of land value was important because the city would need to borrow an estimated $2.3 million to construct a new water tower and related water and sewer infrastructure. Tax increment from the development would help pay for it.
The tower is needed to provide enough water pressure for fire sprinklers in the multi-unit buildings. The proposed plans call for the water tower to be built in the southwest corner along 15th Street.
Swiderski could build and sell single-family homes in 2022 before the water tower was built, but that would depend on market demand. Likely, the city would need to plan for borrowing money in 2023, with payments starting in 2024.
The city has set up a tax increment district which can fund infrastructure improvements for the project, but it could be several years later—such as 2026—before the development had progressed enough to start generating a substantial tax increment.
City Clerk Carmen Newman suggested the council ask if the developer can guarantee the city would see a tax increment by a certain deadline.
“Realistically though, we’re going to have a year or two of loan payments until we get some tax increment in there,” Newman said.
Newman suggested the council have the land rezoned from Ag to Residential-3, to allow for a mix of single- and multifamily buildings. Council member Earl Grover said many neighbors along Knapp and 15th street were in favor of the plan. Council member Scott Bachowski said it should be advertised that rezoning it R-3 doesn’t mean the whole property will be all apartment buildings. There is a mix of R-1, R-2 and R-3 uses in it, he said.
Hight added that the new single-family homes will have back yards—not front yards and driveways—along Knapp Street, which existing neighbors liked.
Grover added he will be talking to residents in the area. He has heard some express concerns about traffic. He suggested four-way stop signs be placed at the intersection of Knapp and 15th streets.
The council would meet on Tuesday, Sept. 14, to begin the rezoning process, formally choose Swiderski’s preliminary plan and hire an engineering firm to work on plans for the city’s infrastructure work.