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The next meeting of the Greenbush-Vilas Partnerships’ Community Advisory Committee will be held on Monday, June 16th at 7 PM at HotelRED. As always, the public is welcome. 

We’ll talk about progress we’ve made on:

* Establishing the tax incremental district in the neighborhood.

* Creating a new program to acquire and rehab currently rental houses, returning them to the market as owner occupied. 

* Looking at a new vision for the retail area on Regent Street. 

* Market research to understand better what will interest home buyers in the neighborhood.

It’s always a lively hour and a half and we promise to have everyone out by 8:30 PM. It’s also a chance to meet the new alder representing the area, Lucas Dailey. 

 

The Partnership has had a remarkably productive year. Four developments producing about 300 hundred new units of high quality rental housing are near completion or are likely to be completed in 2014. The added tax revenue from these projects will be captured in a new tax incremental district, created this year. A new program is being developed to reinvest that increment into the rehabilitation of student housing and conversion back to owner occupied single-family units. That program will be guided by a comprehensive study, completed this summer, that targets the conversion efforts at two dozen of the most promising structures in the project area.

 

This work is being guided by stakeholders through a community advisory  committee that has met quarterly and become a cohesive sounding board and a catalyst for an overall strategy for the Partnership. A website was developed and maintained as a central point for information about the Partnership and its activities.

 

The Partnership is now well positioned to make visible progress on the ground in 2014 and beyond.

On behalf of everyone at the Partnership we wish you a peaceful and happy holiday. 

This week the Common Council approved the redevelopment of Longfellow School on Brooks Street. 

This is great news for the neighborhood. Originally acquired by Meriter Hospital with a view toward using it for clinical or office space, those uses just never penciled out. So, earlier this year the hospital put out a request for proposals, eventually selecting the Alexander Company in large part because of their extensive background in the adaptive reuse of schools and other historic buildings. 

So, a great old building will soon be brought back to life, high quality housing will be added to the neighborhood, hospital and UW employees will get another great option to live close to work and the added value to the tax rolls can be used to make more investments in the neighborhood. 

Thanks to Meriter and to the Alexander Company for working with the neighborhood and to Ald. Sue Ellingson for shepherding the project through the process. 

Today and tomorrow I’m at the summer meeting of the Mayor’s Innovation Project in Oak Park, Illinois. About three dozen of the most engaged and engaging mayors in the nation are meeting with national experts this weekend on the topics of closing the achievement gap in our schools, how to create walkable communities, how to create diverse neighborhoods, and smart grid technology. 

I helped found MIP eight years ago specifically to get this kind of wonky interaction. I joke (but it’s not that much of a joke) that we’re the nerd mayors of America. We’re proud of that. 

Last Monday, July 22nd, I talked with about two dozen Greenbush neighbors about the work of the Partnership. We met for about an hour and a half in the basement of Neighborhood House. Folks had lots of good questions and I hope I was able to answer most of them. I hope everyone came away with a better understanding of what the Partnership is about and I know I came away with a better understanding of the neighborhood’s interest and concerns. Thanks to everyone for attending!

Dave

Today we’re launching the Greenbush-Vilas Partnership website and along with it this blog. I chose the name “Park & Regent” because that busy intersection is the entry point for most people into the neighborhood. 

The corner of Park & Regent was called “Spaghetti Corners” during WW II when soldiers switching trains at the depot just a block away would stop at one of the old Italian restaurants there for a quick meal. The area retains some of its Italian roots with Fraboni’s deli and the Italian Workmen’s Club, but much of the rich flavor of the neighborhood went away with the “urban renewal” projects of the early 1960’s. 

Today the Greenbush-Vilas Partnership is hard at work at restoring the neighborhood, building off its rich cultural heritage and taking advantage of its close proximity to the UW campus, the hospitals and more. The Partnership is a joint effort of the UW and Meriter and St. Mary’s hospitals with additional support provided by M,G&E, Park Bank, First Weber Foundation and the National Realtors Association. Our work is guided by an 18 member community advisory committee consisting of stakeholders from the neighborhood and business associations and others. 

From time to time I’ll keep you post on our progress through this blog. In the meantime, cruise around the website and let me know what works and what we might add. 

Dave Cieslewicz,

Director

The Greenbush-Vilas Partnership