Community leaders and project partners celebrated on Friday the opening of a 60-unit affordable-housing development in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood, the first major project of developer Brandon Rule.
The $12.2 million development at 704 W. National Ave. includes a mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, including 46 units of affordable housing for working families, and another 14 units dedicated to permanent supportive housing for adults who have struggled with housing.
The project was developed by Almena-based Impact Seven and Milwaukee-based Rule Enterprises.
Rule, an ACRE graduate, began pursuing the project in 2015. Its location has a special significance for Rule, who grew up just blocks from the site and rode past it every day on his bus route to school.
The owners of El Rey previously owned the former industrial buildings on the site. El Rey Enterprises LLP sold the buildings to Impact Seven, for $730,800 in 2017.
Rule secured nine funding sources for the project. Minnetonka, Minnesota-based health insurance firm UnitedHealthcare was the largest investor in the project, providing $6.3 million in equity through a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit partnership with Cinnaire and Minnesota Equity Fund.
UnitedHealthcare representatives said the investment was part of a company initiative to help people live healthier lives by connecting quality and affordable housing to better health. The company invested in a similar affordable housing project in Madison, for a total investment of $12 million in such projects in the state to date.
The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority allocated tax credits and provided $3.2 million in loans and mortgage financing. The City of Milwaukee; the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; IFF and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago; Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation; and NeighborWorks contributed $2.2 million in additional funding. Impact Seven and Rule Enterprises provided $450,000 in deferred development fees.
Rule is now shifting his attention to a nearby site, the former Esperanza Unida auto lot and building at 1313 and 1329 W. National Ave., where he plans to demolish the existing structures and construct an affordable housing development on the site. The project is a joint venture between Rule Enterprises and Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan.
The development, which would include 89 units, has a $17 million preliminary budget and one of the primary funding sources is Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority low-income housing tax credits. He said on Friday he plans to break ground on the project as soon as December. He said the project has 95% of its funding sources committed.
Rule said he also plans this year to launch a real estate crowdfunding platform that would help provide minorities with access to capital.