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Southridge senior housing plans take shape

March 17, 2010

If all goes according to plan, Berkshire-Greendale will soon offer affordable housing to senior citizens in the village.

Officials laid the necessary groundwork Tuesday to advance the proposed 90-unit housing complex, to be developed by General Capital Group on property adjacent to Southridge Mall.

The Community Development Authority and Village Board unanimously approved a development agreement and the creation of the village's first tax-incremental financing district to help fund site improvements.

Following a public hearing, the board also approved rezoning the 3.1-acre parcel on which the development will sit, from general business- special use to general residence- special use.

Financing plan and details

The housing complex will be encompassed by the 24-acre TIF district - now an open parking lot, including the former Blood Center building, bounded by 76th Street on the west, Grange Avenue on the south, the mall on the north and a village-owned woodland area on the east.

Through tax-increment financing, new tax dollars generated by improvements help pay for a redevelopment effort. The Southride project is expected to increase the property's value by about $9 million by 2014.

The senior living facility will include a mix of one- and two-bedroom units in a three-story structure, with access at the existing mall entrance on Grange Avenue, just east of Northway, and will fit the model of similar Berkshire housing complexes developed by General Capital Group in West Allis, Oconomowoc and Grafton.

Other components of the project will include the relocation and extension of the Southridge Mall ring road, the extension of Northway into mall property, and other road and utility improvements, for which the village will contribute about $1.25 million.

The village also will kick in $500,000 to assist developers with closing on the purchase of the property.

Construction would be completed by December 2011.

Important step for mall

For village officials, the project represents the culmination of years of hard work to redevelop Southridge Mall.

"This has been an important piece for us to … further development on this parcel property, and within the Southridge property overall," Village President John Hermes said.

It also is consistent with goals of the village's comprehensive plan to reintegrate Southridge with the downtown village, and to provide "age-in-place housing" so that senior citizens aren't forced to leave Greendale due to lack of housing options, Village Manager Todd Michaels said.

But watch out for traffic

Some residents, however, urged the board to take a closer look at traffic flow and potential safety considerations.

"I'm not against it, I'm not for it. But I'm worried about the safety on Northway," said Wanda Brandt, who resides on Apple Court near the Northway and Grange intersection. "(Officials) haven't done an impact study, and they can't predict what traffic is going to be in 20 years."

Joe Russ, a member of the Greendale Originals Neighborhood Association, also worried about how the extension of Northway would change traffic flow into the village, and what type of access to the mall would be provided to senior citizens living at the new complex.

There is still time for those factors to be studied more closely as the project develops, officials said.

Next, developers will be applying for tax credits, working on marketing analysis and financial aspects of the project, and fleshing out engineering and architectural plans, Michaels said. The project will be continually reviewed by the Plan Commission as it proceeds.

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