Core Spaces, the luxury student housing developer for the Hub and Oliv near campus, proposed two new developments in downtown Madison in March.
One of the buildings would be located on North Broom between West Gorham and West Johnson called “Johnson and Broom,” and the other would be located across the street on North Bassett between West Dayton and West Johnson, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The proposal would demolish 11 student apartments located between 437-445 W Johnson St., 430-444 W Dayton St. and 215-221 N Bassett St. for the two buildings.
These proposed developments for new luxury student apartments would provide over 600 housing units to the downtown area, a supply which District 4 Alder Michael Verveer told The Daily Cardinal is much needed.
“I’ve been a representative in City Hall of students and other downtown residents for a very long time now, and I have never seen this level of hysteria and very valid concern by parents and students for housing,” Verveer said.
Because the proposed developments are still in the process of being approved, Verveer said he has not taken a formal position for or against them.
“On one hand, these additional beds obviously will help with the supply and demand need with student housing,” he said. “On the other hand, with the rich level of amenities proposed, it doesn’t yield affordable housing to most students.”
Oliv, another Core Spaces project currently in development on W Gorham Street, compromised with the city of Madison and campus advocates to include an affordability component in exchange for additional height, which will allow qualifying students a reduced rent at a 40% discount of the market rate. According to Verveer, 10% of beds have been set aside for at least the next 30 years for students approved by the UW Office of Student Financial Aid for this initiative.
However, he said Core Spaces has been less accommodating with the new project proposals.
“They are not interested, unfortunately, in providing any affordable housing in the project between Dayton and Johnson,” said Verveer.
The other project on Johnson and Broom was approved by the Urban Design Commission (UDC), according to District 2 alder-elect and UDC member Juliana Bennett, who voiced her concern for the demolition of affordable housing units to develop luxury skyrises.
“I would say one thing in all of these developments, it's not just building luxury high rises — it's also demolishing our affordable housing stock,” she said.
Despite this, the project was still approved by the UDC. Bennett said the Common Council is limited in its ability to impose affordable housing requirements on new developments.
“We cannot look at a proposal, and say the rent is too high and not approve it,” Bennett said. “It’s concerning and frustrating. We have limited tools to limit this behavior.”
The need for affordable housing has taken center stage in the debate over the approval of the new Core Spaces developments. President of the Campus Area Neighborhood Association (CANA) Elias Tsarovsky said he enthusiastically approaches the discussion and looks to amplify student voices at UW-Madison.
“If everything is luxury development, you are pricing people out of housing,” Tsarovsky said.
CANA is holding a virtual meeting on Thursday, April 13 with the Core Spaces development team at 6 p.m. to learn about the new project at Johnson and Bassett.
“We want to bring people into conversation with the development team directly, it’s powerful,” Tsarovsky said. “We can really build the neighborhood together.”