Robert Karp 0

Afford Viroqua

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Affordable Homeownership in Viroqua

Broadway and Main Street

Dear Viroqua City Administrator and members of the Viroqua City Council:

We, the undersigned, are a group of Viroqua area residents who would like to see the old County highway shop on Highway 14 and Broadway across from the Food Coop developed into a state-of-the-art pocket neighborhood. Specifically, we are hoping to see at this site:

  • A mix of affordable and market rate housing
  • A mix of retail, hospitality, and childcare offerings
  • Green spaces
  • A primary focus on home-ownership rather than rentals
  • A world class design that our community can be proud of for decades to come.

We would also like to see this site developed by local companies, local architects and local contractors.

At present, it appears to us that the City has made a premature commitment to an out-of-town developer who helped the City secure a large grant for the project from the State of Wisconsin. We feel that this developer may have gained undue influence over the project through their offer of grant writing. We also believe that the plan they have put forward lacks the features we feel that this site and this town deserve. Specifically, their plan:

  • Calls for primarily affordable housing on the site rather than a balanced mix of affordable and market rate housing. This kind of concentration is outdated and has been shown to have negative effects on lower income communities.
  • Is based on 100% rental and offers no home ownership options. This means, among other things, that the grant from the state of WI will essentially be a corporate subsidy to the developer rather than a subsidy for people who live and work here who wish to build equity as homeowners. It also means that a huge amount of revenue each year in the form of rent payments will flow out of our community.
  • Proposes to demolish the historic county administration building, rather than modify and integrate it into the design of the whole neighborhood.

These defects are serious and we implore the City Council to explore every avenue necessary to step back from a commitment to the current developer. We are aware that a local architect, Gregory Splinter has put forward a design that is much more aligned with the ideals articulated above and has envisioned a Contractor / Developer / Finance team that could carry out this development. We would love to see Gregory’s plan be given serious consideration, and both options compared side-by-side in one or more public forums.

Thank you for your immediate consideration of this request.

Robert Karp, Viroqua, author of letter

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