Redevelopment plans by The Salvation Army’s for property at Main and High streets may be in for a bumpy ride. The social services organization is planning to expand its services and housing units on property it owns at 960-970 Main Street. The North Pearl Street Block Club has raised a number of concerns about the project that would see 172 affordable housing units constructed and an expansion of the family shelter to 80 beds.
The proposed project would include 155 units in a six-story building fronting Main Street and 17 townhouses along North Pearl Street. Up to 35 units would be for tenants enrolled in The Salvation Army’s supportive programs with the balance available for low-income tenants.
The block club expressed its concerns in a letter to the Common Council after meeting with The Salvation Army in June:
- Eighty percent of the block club’s survey’s respondents say the project is too big and should be scaled down.
- All of the respondents say there is not enough parking proposed.
- Eighty percent of respondents are concerned about crime including panhandling.
- Sixty-seven percent of residents are concerned about property values.
- Seventy-five percent of respondents are concerned about noise.
- Fifty-five percent of residents are concerned about loss of light and note the sun being blocked out be other new buildings on the Medical Campus.
- All of the respondents said no to a single-campus and suggest the townhouses not have a connection to Main Street and have rear yards instead to discourage through-traffic from Main to North Pearl.
- Though a design has not been released, 80 percent of residents are concerned about the design and how it will blend with the historic neighborhood.
According to the letter, residents are concerned about the impact on already limited parking:
“The argument is that because the tenants are all low income, they will not choose to own cars. Yet the Salvation Army anticipates that of the non-supported population, every other one of them will own a car. If that’s 130 units of the 172 total and half of them own cars, that’s possibly 50-70 more cars on the block. The staff at the location will increase as well, but will they all have parking available? Residents feel there needs to be a minimum of 100 parking spaces designated for Salvation Army employees and probably 50 more spaces for those tenants with cars.”
Residents are encouraging first floor commercial space along Main Street such as a child care facility or coffee shop to serve both the neighborhood and Medical Campus.
Overall, 33 percent of the survey respondents oppose the project altogether with the balance supporting some version of the project.