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Rise Madison construction underway; east side affordable housing complex to open in 2025

Rendering provided by WHPC.

Wisconsin Housing Preservation Corp. (WHPC) announced yesterday the new construction of a transformational affordable housing development on Madison’s east side. 

Rise Madison will be a 100% affordable housing community designed to meet the housing needs of individuals and families, and will be the largest affordable housing project in Wisconsin, according to a press release.

The $82.3 million development will be constructed on a 6.5-acre site of a former bakery manufacturing facility at the intersection of East Washington and North Fair Oaks Avenues within the Hawthorne neighborhood on Madison’s East Side. Project consultants include Knothe & Bruce Architects, Middleton, WI; McGann Construction, Madison, WI; and engineering firm Vierbicher Associates, Madison, WI.

 buildings have been demolished and construction began in December with completion to occur in three phases through October 2025. Two of the four buildings will be ready for resident move-in by February 2025 with pre-leasing to begin in late 2024. 

 “We are excited to bring to Madison a signature product that will be the largest affordable rental community in the state,” WHPC President Mary Wright said in a statement. “We have thoughtfully planned this site for families, individuals, and seniors with a 1.5-acre private park and access to many services, including the Bus Rapid Transit stop, Access Community Health Clinic, Hawthorne Elementary, and the many businesses along East Washington Avenue. We believe this development will be the catalyst for continuing the growth along Madison’s major thoroughfare.”

Rise Madison is the culmination of a strategic partnership between WHPC and the City of Madison with funding from Associated Bank and Johnson Financial Group, who collaborated to fund the project with a $13 million construction/bridge loan and a $41,632,068 tax-exempt bond loan issued by the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

All units at Rise Madison will be income-restricted and provide housing for working people whose annual incomes fall between 30% to 80% of the area median income (AMI) in Dane County. A two-person household eligible to live at Rise Madison would need to have incomes ranging between $29,310 to $78,160 in 2023 figures.

The mix of units at Rise will be 12 units at 30% AMI, 102 units at 50% AMI, 47 units at 60% AMI, 78 units at 70% AMI, and six units at 80% AMI.

Rendering provided by WHPC.

“Rise Madison transforms a previously vacant concrete jungle into a well-designed residential community that will be not only be comfortable but also affordable,” Development Project Manager Megan Walela said in a statement. “Apartments for families and seniors will be available to move into as early as spring 2025.”

WHPC was awarded four percent federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTCs) in fall 2023 through the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDA). These credits will be purchased by tax credit syndicator CREA of Indianapolis. Other funding sources, in addition to Associated Bank and Johnson Financial, include, Affordable Housing Program and tax incremental financing (TIF) from the City of Madison, WHPC Capital Magnet Fund, WHPC’s own investment, Dane Workforce Housing Fund, and a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Brownfield Grant.

“The Rise Madison project brings needed affordable housing to a site well served by transit and connected to local schools and colleges,” Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said in a statement. “We applaud this thoughtfully designed project, and I am proud of the work the City was able to do to support it. With the help of City affordable housing funds and tax increment financing, we were able to help create 245 quality affordable apartments, including several larger, family units which are in high demand in Madison. This is a great example of how the City and the private sector can work together for the benefit of the community.”

WHPC made a successful offer to purchase the former bakery site in July 2021, which had been vacant since 2019. After the property was under contract, WHPC officials began sharing their vision for the development with the City of Madison, neighborhood stakeholders, and elected officials. Participation in the Madison Common Council’s President’s Work Group on Environmental Justice was also part of the listening process.

In early 2022, WHPC sponsored several neighborhood meetings to present a preliminary Rise Madison concept and acquire feedback from area residents. After several plan modifications gained the support of the neighborhood, WHPC submitted the project to the City of Madison Plan Commission and Common Council, both of whom approved rezoning the project from industrial light manufacturing to multi-family residential with some commercial space.

WHPC collaborated with and responded to neighborhood stakeholders’ needs and concerns, agreeing to incorporate state-of-the-art construction techniques and materials to mitigate sound from Dane County Regional Airport and Truax Field.

Rise Madison will be adjacent to a future bus rapid transit (BRT) stop along a prominent intersection adjacent to the property. The BRT will connect Rise residents with job opportunities and amenities throughout Madison and provide proximity to libraries, schools, parks, restaurants, shopping, and health and community centers.

The development will provide a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments within four buildings. Plans include two-story, three-bedroom townhomes with individual entrances, a three-story walk-up building with an elevator for seniors aged 55 years and older, and two five-story walk-up buildings. The two-story building facing East Washington Avenue will include approximately 5,000 square feet of commercial space.

Rise Madison will create approximately 1.5 acres of park space to complement the existing Hawthorne School open space to the south of the site and extend green space within the Rise community for residents to enjoy.