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Janesville City Council to hear early pitch for 260-unit apartment project

JANESVILLE

Janesville has had no shortage of major residential proposals within the past year as the city continues searching for ways to bolster its housing stock.

Add one more to the list.

The city council will hear a first reading Tuesday of a plan to annex 40 acres from the town of La Prairie that eventually could become the site of a five-building, 260-unit multifamily development.

The council’s regular Monday meeting was pushed back a day for the observance of Memorial Day.

The market-rate apartments would be located at the southeast corner of Myrtle Way and the Racine Street frontage road. They would neighbor the Oak Park Place assisted living facility and would be a stone’s throw from Interstate 90/39.

Myrtle Way would be extended through the site to form a three-way intersection with Sharon and Read roads.

Ryan Shoelace LLC owns 37 acres on the site, while the city controls a separate 3-acre parcel near Sharon Road. The parcels need to be annexed into the city and must undergo a variety of reviews by the Janesville Plan Commission, Planning Director Duane Cherek said.

Ryan Shoelace LLC is managed by the same family that operates Ryan Incorporated Central, which is adjacent to the housing proposal.

On the 40-acre site, the buildings would be tucked into 11.5 acres at the property’s northeast corner. Each building would be three stories and feature underground parking, Cherek said.

The project from Madison-based Hovde Properties is similar to a vision the company mentioned in September. The discussion was not a formal proposal last fall, but the idea has now come forward after internal staff changes at Hovde, Cherek said.

Hovde manages the Woodsview Apartments on the other side of Racine Street.

The unnamed proposal likely would receive tax increment financing incentives, but the city’s economic development office is still hammering out agreement details. Cherek was not sure of the project’s overall value.

The location makes sense for housing because of the Interstate accessibility and connection to the bike trail that passes through Palmer Park, he said.

The project is scheduled to return to the council July 8 for a public hearing. That gives the plan commission enough time to review zoning and site plan agreements.

Besides this one, the city has two other major housing developments in the works. One is a 119-unit proposal that would fill the vacant baseball fields on Woodman Road. The other is a 62-unit affordable housing project that would be built north of the Janesville Police Department.

Cherek confirmed that both of those ideas are still on the table.

Another big residential development, a 60-unit project known as Corner Block on Parker, fell through after the city and developers could not agree on a TIF deal.

Janesville also has several smaller-scale downtown apartment projects on the horizon, including one that recently opened. Cherek also pointed out a 25-unit expansion of Cedar Crest senior living, a plan that also has a first reading at Tuesday’s council meeting.

If some or all of those ideas become reality, they will relieve pressure on the tight local housing market.

“That’s a positive thing for the community that’s been a long time coming,” Cherek said. “We’ve been working hard to get to this point. I think we’re nearing that time where plans are coming forward with real consideration for review and approval.”


Government
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Janesville snags grants for road safety upgrades

JANESVILLE

Economic loss might seem like an unusual—perhaps even crass—way to measure the impact of traffic crashes that can result in life-threatening injuries.

But considering the resulting costs of medical bills, property damage and police response, economic loss is one way to capture the severity of a given incident, said Ahna Bizjak, a senior engineer for the city.

Economic loss and other crash data formed the foundation of Janesville’s successful grant applications to make safety improvements at three intersections.

The money will pay for upgrades at the intersections of Memorial Drive and Washington Street, Milwaukee Street and Randall Avenue, and Racine Street and Randall Avenue.

Each of those three appeared on a list of the city’s 10 intersections with the highest economic loss between 2013 and 2017. The list was compiled after a study funded by a local chapter of the Federal Transit Administration.

The study did not consider any Janesville intersections that involved state or federal highways. Those likely would have filled the top 10 list because of high traffic volume and would have required coordination with other agencies to make improvements, Bizjak said.

None of the top 10 intersections recorded a fatal accident during the five-year period.

Federal and state grants, allocated through the federal Highway Safety Improvement Program, will cover 90% of costs at each of the three intersections. The city will cover the rest, she said.

Early construction cost estimates are $400,000 at Memorial/Washington, $310,000 at Racine/Randall and $305,000 at Milwaukee/Randall.

Racine/Randall is scheduled for 2021 construction, while the other two are planned for 2022.

Each will get new traffic signals with larger bulbs and reflective backing to improve visibility. Countdown pedestrian timers will be installed if they aren’t already in place.

Some legs of each intersection could receive dedicated left turn lanes, and the Memorial/Washington crossing might get an island, Bizjak said.

The three junctions ranked fourth, fifth and seventh on the list of costliest intersections. But none of them were on the city’s docket of future projects, she said.

Four of the 10 intersections, including the top three, involved Court Street. That road is already slated for reconstruction at an unspecified date, so it made sense to wait to implement big repairs, Bizjak said.

As a short-term fix, the city will consider fresh pavement markings or more signs.

Besides the three successful grant applications, Janesville also submitted one for the Five Points intersection. That application is still under review.

Five Points includes Highway 51, which the state Department of Transportation plans to resurface in the next few years. The project stops just shy of Five Points, but city officials would like to see the projects tied together, Bizjak said.

Even though the economic loss study will cover only three intersections for now, having the data in the city’s back pocket will help Janesville chase future grants for upcoming projects, she said.


Anthony Wahl 

A Great Blue Heron takes off from edge of Traxler Park lagoon after wading in the water eating small fish Friday afternoon.


Anthony Wahl 

A great blue heron wades in the edge of the Traxler Park lagoon while a finding a few fish to eat on Friday afternoon.


Obituaries and death notices for May 25, 2019

John H. Brown Jr.


Angela Major 

A ZOLL’s Intravascular Temperature Management machine sits at the end of a bed in the emergency room at Mercyhealth Hospital and Trauma Center, Janesville.