Kenosha seeking developers to build multi-family at downtown site

City hopes construction to begin by spring 2020

The site eyed for residential development in downtown Kenosha. (Courtesy: city of Kenosha)

Last updated on June 24th, 2019 at 02:20 pm

The city of Kenosha says it wants to continue on the momentum it has seen in recent years, and is seeking developers to acquire and develop a multi-family residential project at a city-owned downtown site.

On Wednesday, the city issued a request for proposals for construction of a new residential development at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, just a block away from the city’s lakefront. The project site consists of four parcels that can be combined into one lot for development, according to a news release.

The development site is just south of the 5th Avenue Lofts, a new 60-unit apartment building developed by Kenosha-based Bear Development. Also in the immediate area of the site are a community garden and marina; a single- and two-family residential neighborhood; and Kenosha’s central business district.

Zohrab Khaligian, Kenosha community development specialist, said the site was formerly the location of four buildings, including a 40-room rooming house, a duplex and two four-unit apartment buildings. Those buildings were either vacant or underutilized, he said, so the city started acquiring them a little more than a year ago and had them all razed by the end of 2018.

Khaligian said the idea is to take advantage of all the development activity that the city has witnessed recently. In fact, developers have been asking about this particular site for some time.

“Since we’ve assembled the site, I would say almost on a weekly basis we have developers coming in looking for a development opportunity,” he said, adding that one developer has even presented conceptual plans for the site even prior to the city putting together this RFP.

A competitive RFP process will ensure the city will be getting the best possible project for that site, Khaligian said. The redevelopment of this downtown location also fits in with the city’s desire to build up more density in that area, in order to attract and support more commercial and retail uses, he added.

Developers have until June 14 to submit their proposals, according to the RFP. Khaligian said the city hopes to identify a group of finalists by June 23 and interview them the week after July 4.

The selected developer would then work out design plans and a development agreement with the city. Conceptual plans would have to be approved by the Plan Commission, and following that the Common Council would have a final say over the contract and final development plans.

Khaligian said the city’s goal is for construction to commence in spring 2020.

This wasn’t the only development-related RFP issued by the city on Wednesday. A separate request is seeking developers interested in constructing six owner-occupied single-family homes in the Wilson Redevelopment Project Area on Kenosha’s northwest side.

The city’s Redevelopment Authority in 2008 created this redevelopment area to address the blighting influence of 60 four-unit rental buildings. To date, the city has acquired and razed 23 buildings in that area with the long-term objective of rebuilding new single-family homes on those sites.

Khaligian said these small apartment buildings were all constructed between the late 1950s and early 1960s, but the six-block area quickly became “our worst neighborhood.” The apartments weren’t properly managed and have become a problem for the community, he added.

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Alex Zank
Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.

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