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Developer eyes Fourth Ave. for twin home project

By Brandi Makuski

Plan commissioners on Monday will be asked to approve a new development near Bukolt Park.

Origin Family Homebuilders has proposed construction of 10 units of twin homes—20 lots total—on a one-and-a-half-acre property on the 500 block of Fourth Avenue. The project was introduced to residents of the neighborhood during a presentation on Jan. 23.

The land is currently home to Northwest Counseling and Guidance Clinic, a youth center that occupies a small building on the lot. That organization has outgrown the space and plans to relocate into an unused wing of the city’s police department on Michigan Avenue.

City leaders say they’re excited about the project because it addresses two ongoing concerns noted in the city’s recent housing study: developing infill and construction of new, single-family homes.

Jeff Rice of Origin Family Homebuilders takes questions from neighbors on Jan. 23. (Metro Wire photo)

“What’s cool about this is, these aren’t rentals; they are owner-occupied homes,” said Mayor Mike Wiza.

Michael Ostrowski, community development director, said it’s rare for existing land inside the city to become available for development of new homes. The chance to increase the city’s tax base with quality homes is one the city doesn’t want to pass up, he said.

“As we get to the fringes [of city boundaries], land is very, very expensive, and we’re seeing the cost to run services to those lots doesn’t keep up with the pace of growth,” Ostrowski said, adding 2017 was a good year for commercial growth, but not single family home construction—due to that shortage of available lots.

Jeff Rice, co-owner of Origin Family Homebuilders, said the company saw the availability of the lot as a “big opportunity”.

“To be able to take one large chunk of land and develop it…it’s a way to kick-start revitalization on the north side,” Rice said. “The houses on that side [of the city] are extremely old. The housing study targeted the northside as needing revitalization.”

If approved by the plan commission, then by the full city council on Feb. 19, construction could begin this spring, Rice added. 

“It’s in a very desirable location,” Ostrowski said. “Close to downtown and Bukolt Park, and may be attractive for individuals looking to settle down.”

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