Housing Project Opening Celebrated

104-unit Development Features Many Amenities

By Lisa Schuetz
The Capital Times, July 15, 2006

Avalon Madison Village apartments have air conditioning, balconies and porches, in-unit washers and dryers, underground parking and walk-in closets.

A colorful playground and sprinkler park are behind the clubhouse. And the clubhouse has a computer room, party area with kitchen and fireplace, and an exercise room and movie room that seats about a dozen — all free for residents.

It sounds luxurious, and it is.

And 70 percent of the 104 apartments are affordable to people who make 60 percent of the county median income — about $43,920 for a family of four.

The $14.7 million project, on the site of the former SuperSaver grocery off Verona Road, celebrated its grand opening Friday.

Developed by Gary Gorman, it already has about 20 occupied units — some by residents from the area — with 34 more or so slated to be occupied in the next couple of weeks.

An additional 50 units are being completed and will be leased as soon as they are awarded occupancy permits, senior development manager Chris Laurent of the Gorman and Co. said.

One-bedroom units rent for $663 to $815 a month, two bedrooms for $786 to $980 and three bedrooms rent for $907 to $1,140.

The City Council approved the project in February 2005 and sold the site to Gorman for $1.56 million, including $560,000 in cash and $1 million in payments over the next 16 years. The city bought the long-vacant, 6.7-acre site in December 2004 for $3.5 million, using $1.5 million in tax incremental financing money and borrowing $2 million that will be repaid with TIF.

The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority provided tax credits of $7.4 million over the next 10 years. Madison Gas & Electric granted the project $68,000 and Focus on Energy gave $12,000 to help make sure the project was energy efficient.

Alice Howard, the Allied-Dunn’s Marsh Neighborhood Association president, speaking at the opening ceremony, said Laurent has proven to be a friend to her and the neighborhood because he never walked away despite their tough demands.

Gorman and Co. and the neighborhood worked out an agreement that included hosting job fairs for area residents. Hundreds attended the first job fair in July 2005 and another is planned for later this summer.

Gorman and Co. also committed to providing computers for the clubhouse, land for a day-care center, and preference to emerging and minority-owned subcontractors on the job. It also contributed $5,000 to the Madison Apprentice Program, which provides training and education for residents.

New renter Jeanette Pearnell, a former Allied Drive resident, praised the project at Friday’s event, saying she felt confident her grandchildren were safe when playing outside her apartment.

“There are some wonderful people on Allied Drive,” she said. “But I’m very, very pleased with my new apartment. … It’s not a home that I purchased, but to me it feels like home.”