City Plan Commission approves KYF project

Earlier tonight, the City Plan Commission met to discuss the $8 million project for the development of the old Kenosha Youth Foundation (KYF) Building across from Library Park in downtown Kenosha, located at 5800 – 7th Avenue.

Community development specialist Zohrab Khaligian said that $200,000 is being requested in Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) tax credits.  The developers will be back in one month (on December 6th) and will hold a formal public hearing, which will be properly noticed.

A joint review board will be set up made up of the four taxing authorities:  the city, the county, Gateway, and the Kenosha Unified School District (KUSD).  It will then go before the Finance Committee and the Common Council in January.  For the next 27 years, they will agree to forgo the increased tax revenue from the development until the debt is paid off.

David Nankin, developer, spoke about the project.  He said that, while they would appreciate the $200,000, they would really like to obtain $300,000.  This will increase the number of points assigned to their application for city support.  Mayor Keith Bosman said that he discussed it with his staff, and they would like to see the project get done, so they are supporting the higher amount.  All taxing bodies will participate in paying off the debt.

Alderperson Jan Michalski said that he is supportive of the project and would vote in favor of it, but he thought that the Tax Improvement District (TID) was used to either promote industry or remove blight.  “This is a worthwhile development in the downtown area.  But, this building is not blighted,” he said.  Khaligian disagreed.  “Just go inside the building and see the blight.  The building’s been vacant for years,” he said.  “An active use is needed in the building.  The recreation facility and single-room occupancy is obsolete.”  Nankin said that the reason the building doesn’t look blighted is that they have taken care of it.  Michalski said that he spoke to the alderperson of the district, Chris Schwartz, and she is also in support of the project as well.

Alderperson Anthony Kennedy asked Khaligian if the tax entities have ever rejected a project like this, and he said no.

Commissioner Kathryn Comstock had several questions about the size and number of units being proposed.  Nankin replied that there will be 42 units, 9 of which will be rented at market rate rates.  Thirty-three (33) will be rented with income limits at the 50 or 60% level.  The units will be studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units.  She also asked about the two pools and cafe.  Nankin said that there is a two-story parking deck being planned.  He also said that the pool in the northwest corner will be filled in.  The commission will have the opportunity to see the plans before it is fully approved.  LaBahn stated that once they see that the project has been approved by WHEDA, a detailed conditional use permit would then be approved.  They will be seeing a final detailed plan once it moves to the next step of review by the Common Council for final action.

The mayor commented that the building will be marketed towards entry level young professionals from the Kenosha Memorial Hospital or teachers from Reuther High School.  Bosman also said that there will not be a lot of stress placed on the school district as a result of this development.  He then moved to change the amount from $200,000 to $300,000, but Khaligian said that the motion can be included in the minutes, but he didn’t know if the change could be made at this time.  It could come later.  Starting next week, a notice would be placed in the Labor Paper which will say $300,000.  But, the plan could not be changed without sending it back.

Jeff LaBahn, the director of community development and inspections, then confirmed that a formal amendment would not be made at this time.

Comstock wanted to know when the project would be completed, and Nankin replied that the work would probably start next December, 2013, or January, 2014, and will take about one and one-half years to complete.  They will be applying to WHEDA in early February of 2013, and hope to receive approval the following January.

All voted unanimously to approve the project.

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In other business conducted at the meeting, the commission also approved the conditional use permit for an indoor batting cage facility at 4622 – 68th Avenue.  The issue of adequate parking was questioned, and it was agreed to add additional parking spaces.

The next meeting will be held on Thursday, December 6th, when the follow-up of the TID just discussed will take place.

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