Wyalusing Academy Property

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Wyalusing Academy 

project awaiting WHEDA tax credit approval

By Ted Pennekamp


The application for financing has been submitted and the developers hope that construction on the former Wyalusing Academy property can commence in the fall of 2016. 

“At this point, we have submitted an application to WHEDA, and hope to hear back from them no later than May 2016,” said Kevin McDonell, vice president of development for Commonwealth Development of Fond du Lac. “If all goes well we will be gearing up to start construction in the fall of 2016.”

The former Wyalusing Academy property was rezoned from R-1 (low density residential) to R-3 (high density residential) at the Jan. 5 Prairie du Chien Common Council meeting. 

The next step is to gain the financing for the project which has a rough estimated cost of $8 million. The plan is for the former Wyalusing Academy building, 601 S. Beaumont Road, to become a 40-unit apartment complex.

McDonell said the project will be financed through historic tax credits, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) tax credits and bank financing. The combination of historic tax credits and WHEDA tax credits has the potential to pay for 80-85 percent of the cost of the project.

Commonwealth Development is WHEDA’s top-rated developer and has developed 30 properties similar to the Wyalusing Academy property. Commonwealth Development has sold none of those 30 properties.

If construction were to begin in the fall of 2016, McDonell has said that the project would be expected to be completed in the fall of 2017.

The property is owned by River to Valley Initiatives (RVI) of Prairie du Chien who was given the property by Clinicare of West Allis, Wis. in order to develop it as a positive and sustainable entity. The directive was to preserve the historical integrity of the property and save it from demolition while preserving the tax base. It is expected that RVI will sell the property to Commonwealth Development.

In January, McDonell had noted that the rent for a two-bedroom apartment is projected to be about $600 per month, while the rent for a three-bedroom is projected to be approximately $700. Commonwealth Development projects have typically drawn 20-30 percent senior citizens as renters. The apartment building will be a certified Wisconsin Green Built Home because it will be environmentally friendly and energy efficient. 

Because of the use of federal and state historic tax credits, the project would be overseen by the Wisconsin Historic Preservation Office in order to ensure the historic integrity of the building, while at the same time modern renovations are done such as new, energy efficient furnaces, air conditioning units and an elevator. Amenities for the residents of the proposed apartment building to enjoy would include a community room, computer room, fitness center and an on-site property management office. Historically significant features such as the hardwood flooring, stone work, the gym, and chalkboards will be restored to ensure the building continues to provide its historical look.

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