City considers $18M residential project

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BELOIT - An effort to add a new multi-family residential project in Beloit's Gateway Business District may be starting to take shape, as the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation's Business Committee discussed an $18 million development proposal on Tuesday.

The GBEDC committee reviewed the proposal from developer Scott Ward of Forward Construction Group to build duplex and townhouse units on a 15-acre site southwest of the Gateway Boulevard and Eagles Ridge Drive intersection. Forward construction has been responsible for various projects in the area, including duplexes on Elmwood Avenue and a range of commercial businesses in the area.

GBEDC Executive Director Andrew Janke stressed the development plan still is in its early stages, noting he would meet with development staff to further review the proposal next week.

The proposal reviewed Tuesday shows a four phase build out.

Janke and committee members said there needed to be emphasis on future designs and commitments to any such plan to ensure that the project is completed rather than abandoned halfway though.

"Of course this is an initial proposal, and we assume there will be wiggle room to talk about designs and preferences," Janke said.

A major barrier to the plan actually getting started lies in future infrastructure costs, with the city unable to subsidize residential projects and Ward's proposal asking for $3 million from the city to cover new infrastructure costs.

"We will reach out for further clarification on that," Janke said.

An additional residential single-family housing plan for the Gateway Boulevard area was put on hold after a zoning change would have been needed to jump start the 40-acre project, an area that's part of the Gateway Business District tax increment financing district (TIF). Under TIF guidelines, no zoning changes can occur during the life of the district, with the Gateway TIF set to expire in 2023. Officials cited no other sites owned by the city or GBEDC with infrastructure connections as barriers to locating an additional site.

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