190316_CORNER

This illustration of the Corner Block on Parker shows ground-level co-working space and three floors of rental units. The project is dead after talks between the city and the developer ended in January.

JANESVILLE

A market-rate, downtown apartment complex, the plans for which were presented at an uncommon joint meeting of the city council and plan commission, is no longer scheduled to be built.

The Corner Block on Parker would have included 60 apartments and shared working space for startups at the northeast corner of Parker Drive and Wall Street. That space is currently a surface parking lot.

Project developers had unveiled plans at the joint meeting in August. The council and plan commission had not met together since July 2014 when they learned early details of the ARISE downtown revival effort.

City Economic Development Director Gale Price said in the intervening months, the two sides couldn’t reach terms of a tax increment financing incentive package. Talks ended in January.

Price thought the sides were nearing an agreement, but incentive packages are more than just a raw dollar amount; they can include future property tax breaks and other benefits, he said.

The same development group recently got a deal for a separate project in Stevens Point.

The $25 million mixed-use townhome project would receive $3 million from that city if the development meets its projected value, according to The Stevens Point News.

Price said Stevens Point is also providing property tax breaks for 20 years.

Rent prices in the Janesville housing market stagnated years ago and have not kept up with the cost of construction. That creates a funding gap for developers and could lead them to worry about ever recouping their money, Price said.

Negotiations for the Corner Block on Parker, while unsuccessful, are valuable because they give city officials an appreciation for how competitive residential incentives can be. Janesville hasn’t had a new multifamily construction in years.

“It makes us aware of what some of the other communities are doing to foster this kind of development and secure it,” Price said. “The package they were able to square away in Stevens Point was what I would call pretty substantial. Ultimately, we’ll have to weigh that.”

In an email, developer Brent Dahlstrom told The Gazette that he remained interested in bringing a project to Janesville. He included Price on the email to “minimize the thought that we are at odds in any way with the city.”

The development group expressed interest in a long-term relationship with Janesville months ago. At their August presentation, the developers said the name Corner Block on Parker was intended to be a “cornerstone” for future projects.

Price said the city would stay in contact with Dahlstrom and his team in case they propose something new. He was disappointed this project didn’t work out but harbors no animosity toward the developers.

Landing a new apartment complex downtown remains appealing to the city as the neighborhood undergoes a transformation.

“To have an urban apartment project in downtown Janesville this early in the implementation of ARISE could be a very big win for us,” Price said. “We certainly hope to make that happen. It might not be that project or that building or that developer, but we’re still actively pursuing that kind of project downtown.”

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