February 08, 2017
County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan, 608.333.2285
County Board

                   Would use Messner property to leverage project in Tenney-Lapham neighborhood


In a move to provide affordable housing in a popular east-side neighborhood, the Dane County Board will consider at its regular meeting Thursday a resolution to either sell or lease the former Messner Inc. property on East Washington Avenue.


The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Room 201 of the City County Building.


The county purchased the Messner property at 1326 E. Washington Ave. in 2015 with the idea of providing a day center for the homeless but those plans failed to materialize.


County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan said the vacant Messner property now presents an opportunity to open serious discussions about adding more affordable rental housing units in the downtown. 

Corrigan said discussions would involve Dane County, the City of Madison, the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood and other stakeholders. “There is clearly a need in the neighborhood for more affordable housing.”


Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, whose district includes the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood, said the tremendous growth in the area has only put more pressure on housing costs. “At a time of intense investment in the East Wash corridor and a massive increase in luxury rentals, we must use the power of local government to pursue intentionally inclusive and equitable development projects,” she said.


Wegleitner said she was encouraged that public officials have recognized the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood as “a great place to pursue affordable housing for families. I’m confident Dane County staff will work collaboratively with City planning and development staff as this process moves forward,” she said. “I also look forward to hearing more from neighborhood residents, city officials, housing advocates and developers about their interests as we pursue redevelopment of this property.”


The resolution before the County Board on Thursday designates the Messner property for “mixed income” rental housing. That would include units priced for very low income residents making below 50 percent of the county median income and extremely low income families making below 30 percent of the county median income as well as market-rate units


The county would not build or operate the housing on its own but rather would look to work with a private developer. A request for proposals (RFP) would be drafted with input from a variety of sources. The goal is to complete the RFP by June.


“I think everybody involved wants to get moving forward on this as quickly as possible,” said Corrigan.