JANESVILLE

The name of the still-conceptual Corner Block on Parker mixed-use residential project is a double entendre of sorts.

It first references the building’s would-be location at the northeast corner of Parker Drive and Wall Street.

But developers say it also alludes to the project’s potential as a cornerstone of future investment in Janesville.

A development group that spoke Monday at a joint city council and plan commission meeting said it wants the Corner Block on Parker to be the first of multiple projects it brings to the city.

The site is a lightly used surface parking lot that often serves as a daytime home for a local taco truck. If the idea becomes reality, the site would transform into a 60-unit apartment complex with public co-working space—basically shared offices for startups—on the ground floor, said Dan Drendel of Slingshot Architecture.

The project also would swallow 30 street parking spaces on a one-block stretch of Wall Street for resident vehicles. That would be in addition to 19 underground spaces below the building.

City officials likely will dole out some sort of tax incremental financing to make the project happen, Planning Director Duane Cherek said. That’s no surprise considering the council’s growing openness to the development tool.

The Corner Block on Parker is a collaboration between Slingshot Architecture of Des Moines, Iowa; Echo Development Group of Cedar Falls, Iowa; and Lancaster Investments of Madison.

Slingshot has invested heavily in its headquarters’ city. The company has developed more than 40 projects in Des Moines within the past 15 years, Drendel said.

He added that the Corner Block on Parker would be a good first step for the company’s Janesville development, citing its proximity to the Rock River and how it would extend downtown’s walkability.

The project would be located within one of the city’s three economic opportunity zones. The federal program offers developers some tax breaks to incentivize private construction.

The opportunity zones program helped show that Janesville wanted to upgrade its downtown, an enticing selling point for a developer, Drendel said.

Joy Hannemann of Lancaster Investments said Janesville was appealing because the relatively narrow width of the Rock River helps keep both sides of downtown connected. The first discussions with city officials began in early spring, she said.

Brent Dahlstrom of Echo Development later spoke at a June housing forum co-sponsored by the city. There, he advocated for tax incremental financing to help jump-start new residential construction.

Dahlstrom attended Monday’s joint meeting, and he said the Corner Block on Parker would be a market-rate project that could see rents range from $700 to $1,500 per month. It was hard to pinpoint an average rent because the rental market would determine that, he said.

Besides the ground level co-working space and three floors of varied-size apartments, the building also would have a roof deck overlooking the river.

He estimated the building would be valued at about $10 million.

The development team has not yet submitted a full proposal to the city. Once it does, the city council and plan commission would manage an approval process that would take up to 12 weeks, Cherek said.

If it is approved, Dahlstrom said Slingshot would finish designs over the winter and break ground next spring. Units could be ready for occupancy by summer 2020.

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