Housing options explored

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BELOIT - An effort to create more single-family housing options in Beloit could get off the ground Friday following an executive committee meeting of the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation.

The GBEDC will consider a proposal to hire R.H. Batterman to conduct a 40-acre housing master plan in the Gateway Business Park. The development corporation announced in August it would seek to market single-family options at a housing conference hosted by city staff and development stakeholders.

The site, on a parcel south of Gateway Boulevard and north of Apex Drive, could accommodate "larger style lots or a mix of typical size lots and larger lots," according to the proposal submitted by the engineering firm.

Beloit Economic Development Director and GBEDC Executive Director Andrew Janke said the effort would help market the land as a housing development site through a future request for proposals process. He estimated planning would take approximately two to three months, and then an amendment would need to be made to the city's comprehensive plan followed by a rezoning approved by the Beloit City Council, adding two to three more months to the timeline.

The land could be ready for proposals "in the fall," Janke speculated.

Batterman will prepare concepts on how the property could be developed "with an eye towards the future land north and east of this parcel," the proposal said.

The planning process is intended to streamline future development.

All future infrastructure needs and road networks would be addressed with the end of the process resulting in a development "ready for preliminary plat preparation and final engineering design," according to the plan.

In total, the master plan is expected to cost $2,670 for concepts and engineering expenses, the proposal said. Survey and data collection will not be included in the plan.

"Should the project move forward we will provide a proposal for survey boundary, data collection, platting and engineering services," the proposal said.

The lack of single-family housing options on the market in Beloit has become an issue among property owners, developers and potential residents. The city hosted an inaugural housing conference last year, which indicated demand is high, existing inventory is relatively low, new development is slow and prices are rising due to the limited options.

Competition with neighboring communities from the Town of Beloit and Janesville to Roscoe is another key challenge facing housing prospects in the city, coupled with high costs associated with adding new infrastructure to new developments.

At the conference, officials said houses in Beloit are selling for $88,000 on average, while homes in neighboring communities like the Town of Beloit sell for an average of $160,000. Sixty-six percent of all homes in Beloit were built before 1990, and 41 percent of those homes were built before 1950, two challenges to finding renovated amenities and spaces that are highly sought currently by prospective homebuyers.

The city currently has 14,803 residential dwelling units and 6,611, or 45 percent, are rental units, according to city data. Around 2,700 rental units are single family homes.

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