Mills to start grant process for 2012

By Annette Newcomb


The concept for a 24-unit senior housing development proposed low-income senior facility in downtown Twin Lakes is scheduled for discussion during the next Plan Commission meeting, set 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14, in village hall.

Twin Lakes Village Administrator Dave Cox said Monday night that developer Steve Mills is “starting the process over again.”

Last year Mills and his company, Bear Development, had to get tentative approval from the village board before applying for a portion of the $17 million in tax credit awarded by the state on April 22.

A total of 29 projects with a combined 1,463 housing units, were awarded tax credits by WHEDA (Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority).  Mills project was not selected. In hopes of being granted the funds this time around, Mills must start the process over, presenting the concept to the plan commission, then the village board.

Cox said there a few changes to the plans but was not sure what they are.

In April five projects, considered Rural Set-Aside, were awarded 10 percent of $1,187,502 of the state housing per captia credit. The Twin Lakes project fell into that category. A total of 14 rural projects competed for the five spots.

Although the project was not picked during April’s round, Mills said at the time the plan fared well. “They award points for certain areas of the application. Our application had 233 points and all were accepted by WHEDA. The cut off was 244. I feel pretty good about how we landed. They accepted everything we gave them,” he said in April.

In April, an estimated $9 million of the $17.1 million awarded went to projects proposed for southeastern Wisconsin.



WHEDA provides low-cost, fixed interest rate mortgages to low- and moderate-income individuals and families to purchase their first home and works with developers to finance affordable rental housing, and support economic development and agriculture through our small business guarantee programs.

In 2011 competition for the tax credits was higher than normal, according to a WHEDA press release, due to the economic turndown that has made financing projects more difficult.

Two other Mills projects, the Silvercrest and Arbor Green project did receive $632,802 in tax credits. It is listed as an acquisition-rehabilitation project with 84 units total, located in Silver Lake and Kenosha. The project encompasses a townhouse/family units and a more traditional apartment complex for senior housing.


Project review

Mills had approached the Village of Twin Lakes about constructing a 24-unit low-income senior housing in January. Mills owns the property, which is in the TIF District and is located at the end of Main Street and bordered on the south by Bassett Street, near Dr. Dull’s office, with mixed reviews.

A handful of residents whose neighborhood abuts the property claimed the parcel was too small for the 13,500 sq. ft. building.

When the project was presented to the village in the spring, it featured a three-story building with underground parking and an elevator. No parking was to be allowed in the rear of the building.

After several public meetings during which time some residents said the residential nature of the building did not meet the commercial needs of the Main Street Business District, Mills went back to the drawing board and reconfigured the ground floor to include small retail areas, without reducing the number of units.

During other village meetings earlier this year, Mills said the units would be available to those 55 and older whose income is 60 percent below the county medium income. Mills said a majority of seniors would qualify.

During the presentation in the spring, Mills said there would be 12, one-bedroom units at about 720 sq. ft, and 12, two-bedroom units that will be a little over 1,000 sq. ft. Rent for the one-bedroom units was estimated between $500 and $650, depending on income and the two-bedrooms units would rent for $600 to $675 per month.

“Basically, a single person who makes less than $30,000 a year would quality for the one bedroom and to qualify for the two bedroom, income would have to be less than $45,000 per year,” Mills said.

Two people can live in the one bedroom and up to four people can live in the two bedrooms. Mills said they cannot mandate who lives with the qualified tenant, meaning younger family members up to the allowable number per unit could live there as well.

ACC Management Group Inc., owned by Mills, would oversee the day-to-day management of the facility.

The facility would feature a common room, fitness center, underground parking for 22 vehicles and there is a laundry in each unit. There will also be a barber/beauty shop and locked storage units. High speed Internet would be offered free of charge.

Mills estimates the development will bring in about $50,000 in property tax.

He noted the building would meet green built standards with 20 percent of the building materials recycled.

During a meeting held earlier this year, residents had asked what assurances there was that once built, the development would remain as senior housing.

Mills said there will be a deed restriction keeping it 55 and over. “We will jeopardize the tax credits if this is violated…it’s a significant liability on the developer’s side… .”

Mills said by law the development must operate as affordable housing for 30 years. “It will be deed restricted so it remain as senior living…there is no bait and switch here.”

After 15 years the tax credit is gone then Mills will own the building outright.

The Twin Lakes Village Board had approved only the concept plans. At that time the project went before WHEDA for determination of grant money, which it did not receive. Mills is now moving forward in hopes of getting approval in 2012.

(Editor’s Note: Specifications of the building are based on Mills’ presentation earlier this year. There could be changes when the project appears before the plan commission next month.)