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Garys Corner of Tosa

Since moving to the 4th district in 1998 my wife and I have witnessed many big changes in our neighborhood. More big changes loom over us and I will be writing about them here.

Is Senior Apartment Development Just Some Kind of Delay?

Tosa common council development committee David Israel stone point bad ideas

No no will ever argue with me when I say I don't understand something.  When I worked as a welder I always made sure I knew what I was doing so I didn't have to cut the weld out and do it over.  When I worked in the carpenter shop at the factory I measured twice to make sure I cut the right length board.  Even though things in the work place can become second nature you still have to check up on yourself to do it right.  And having others check your work might be a good idea.

Tomorrow Tuesday the 6th, the Tosa common council may decide to approve, or not a proposed Senior Apartment  development just next to our homes West.  The property is owned by a developer from IL. a David Israel.  He has already had a condo project already approved at this location.  It was a long drawn out process for him and local residents.  But the common council saw the condo project as a big property tax revenue source and approved it over the neighborhoods objection.  During that drawn out process several council members as well as residents commented they did not want this condo project to some how turn into a low income housing project.  I don't know if in their minds that included senior housing or not? 

It seems to some that senior housing which is rent subsidized equals low income.  There has also been arguments against that idea too.  There's lots of information about where the construction loans are coming from, and for how much.  But there is the question is David Israel going to invest any of his own money ion his project?  From the minutes of the last committee meeting there is a $900,000 figure that remains after you add up the loans Israel needs, and is that what Israel is going to invest?

Those loans are not approved as I understand it.  It sounds like he has a lot of competition for the WHEDA funds he wants and needs.  Some doubt that he he'll get what he needs to build the senior housing project. 

I can't help getting the impression that this is going to fail just as his condo's did.  I keep hearing the condo's failed because of the economy changes.  A big question in my mind has been why after getting approval for his condo project did he not do the sewer, water, and electrical plans for the project.  As far as I've been able to find all he had were artist renderings and the blue prints of what the buildings would look like.  Did the economy change the day after getting Wauwatosa City approval?

I remember those drawings changed pretty fast and they even moved the buildings in the drawings further to the south away from my property to prevent me from forcing the common council to need a 3/4 majority vote on changing the zoning for Israel's property.  So that leads me to believe that those drawings could have been no more then a prop.

From what I remember Israel had to sell 80% of the condo's of his 1st of 3 buildings before he could get loans for that 1st building.  So how did Mr. Israel or anyone at city hall ever think he could do that even in the best of economic times when the condo's were going to be built right next to the Grede foundry?  How?  It was as if it were meant to fail.  Seriously folks.  Forget how much you may disagree with me about almost everything, and name one luxury condo project an alley away from a factory that has a permit to dump 90 tons of pollution into the air each year.  Come on just one?  Can't think of any?  Didn't think so.

Is this another project meant to fail?  Does anyone really think WHEDA will really loan money so seniors can live next to this foundry? I don't.  No I can't believe they would.  How could they?  That would be so strange.

But then why?  Who could gain from this game of pretend to build?  The estimated 1500 tons of contaminated soil hasn't been removed yet.  Doing the soil remediation in my mind would make Israel's property more attractive to a buyer.  Nancy Welch the community development director says to save the City of Wauwatosa Tax money they are only requiring the soil remediation to be done when something is built there.  And since he's only planning to build one of 3 buildings only the portion of the lot where the first building will go will have the remediation work done.  Further she told me the city doesn't want Israel to come to the city asking for more Tax money to dig up the "clean" soil to build what ever gets built later.  Ummmm......can't the city say "no" you pay to dig your foundation?  The city says no to me a lot.

I'm hoping someone smarter then me can maybe see who could profit here by nothing being built?  So far the only one profiting is.....well Grede foundry.  Some present members of the Tosa common council were on the council and voted to shelve our objections against the foundry continuing use of a building which houses machinery and a process that causes an objectionable, noxious odor.  Grede built that building without the needed common council approval under its Conditional use zoning rules. 

The connection I'm trying to make is nothing high end is going to be built next to the foundry while it's open and running.  It's too loud, and the hazardous air pollution they produce has a objectionable odor.  Is the foundry being protected?  Does the present common council think the city made a mistake creating the TIF redevelopment district?  I don't know?

The foundry seems to be the hold up.  All I know is unless the soil is cleaned we are not going to get relief from the dust that blows from Israels lot covered with crushed concrete rubble.  Supposedly the remediation won't happen unless something is built, and nothing will be built that benefits our taxes unless the foundry closes.  As it looks the senior apartments will provide the TIF district with more property tax revenue then the foundry does.

So in my weird mind the foundry has to close, so WHEDA approves the loan, so the apartments can be approved, so seniors will have faith they can breath, and so part of the lot will have the soil remediation done to stop the dust that David Israel made.


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