City leaders break ground on Broadway Lofts; take first steps to fund more affordable housing

Green Bay, Wis. (WBAY) -- City leaders and developers broke ground Tuesday on the Broadway Lofts, a $23 million affordable housing project in Green Bay's Rail Yard district.

A rendering of the Broadway Lofts, a new affordable housing complex in Green Bay's Rail Yard District.

“107 unit multi-family apartment building here at the side of the Rail Yard,” Jonathan Ehlke, development director for TWG Development, said.

“Rent will range anywhere, I would say, around $600 on the low side to in the $1,400 range for the three-bedroom townhomes.”

The Broadway Lofts are expected to be move-in ready by December of 2020.

Ehlke says the company chose to build in Green Bay after a conversation with city leaders and doing a study which highlighted the lack of affordable housing.

“Generally, through natural turnover and movement, you have five maybe 10 percent vacancy in apartments, and they found zero in affordable housing, which really meant we were really crunched in our terms of supply side,” Kevin Vonck, Development Director for the city, said.

To help open up more funding sources for affordable housing, the Redevelopment Authority on Tuesday approved closing three of Green Bay's tax incremental districts (TID).

A TID is a piece of land associated with development and redevelopment projects.

“Basically something that’s created that allows the city to use financing from new projects, new incremental property taxes, using those funds to finance projects, whether it’s the project themselves infrastructure, improvements in that area,” Vonck said.

Once a TID is paid off, the city is allowed to close it before its mandatory close date.

“You can actually, by state statute, keep it open for one year and use all the new incremental property taxes from all the new development and put those into a fund for housing, which is geared towards doing affordable housing in a community,” Vonck said.

By closing three of Green Bay’s TIDs, it would put about $3 million into a fund to support various affordable housing projects.

“We'd like to use some of those funds for home improvements, helping existing homeowners stay in their home also new housing projects, weather that's rehabilitation or new construction,” Vonck said.

The measures will go to the City Council and the Joint Review Board in September.