Mayor John Antaramian provided the rare tie-breaking vote Monday to provide the developer behind the Residences at Library Park project an additional $300,000 loan to help pay construction costs.
Monday’s vote was narrowly approved by the City Council, with Antaramian breaking 7-7 vote. Ald. Patrick Juliana, who said he supported the ammendment, left the Council meeting early. Alds. Dan Prozanski and Eric Haugaard were absent.
It’s rare for the mayor to vote on Council matters, even though he has the ability to. However, the mayor is obligated to break ties when they occur.
Antaramian said his main concern is getting something done with the large, vacant building located at 720 59th Place.
“My concern comes in the end: what happens to that building,” said Antaramian, chairman of the Planning Commission. “If this does not happen, what happens to the building?”
The city had already approved the $500,000 HOME Program loan. The initial application for $500,000 was submitted by developer Varin/Library Park II LCC last year to help cover a gap in financing.
However, the initial funding gap was contingent upon a $630,000 Federal Home Loan Bank grant. The grant was not approved for the project, so the gap increased by that amount. Various tax credits have also been “volatile,” according to city documents.
Varin/Library Park II LLC has already reworked the costs to achieve some savings, and increases to the deferred developer fee and the general partner equity will help fill the hole. Still, the company said the $300,000 was needed.
Overall, Varin/Library Park II LCC requested $800,000 with a 2 percent interest rate over a 20-year term with annual interest payments of $16,000 beginning in the fourth year after the project has stabalized. The lump sum payment of $800,000 would be due by 2036.
Ald. Kevin Mathewson said the developer should use its own money and resources to invest in the area.
“Whatever happened to people using their own money to start a business?” he said. “Enough is enough.”
The funds will not be dispersed until letters of commitment from all funding sources are offered.
Residences at Library Park Apartments will be a $12.1 million, 49-unit complex with 42 low-income units and seven market price units. The project is being developed in the former KYF building in downtown Kenosha.
Ald. John Fox, who represents the district, voted against the amendment and said he is deeply concerned about the project’s impact on downtown.
“I expect nothing but the best for downtown Kenosha and the second district,” Fox said, adding that he was concerned about the dearth of far more expensive market-value units.
However, Ald. Scott Gordon said Fox’s two previous predecessors supported the project.
“We’ve been dealing with this for how many years?” Gordon said. “It’s clear the Ald. Fox doesn’t want to see this happen. It’s also clear that his two predecessors wanted to see this happen.”
On Monday, the Council also unanimously voted to allow the Kenosha Area Business Alliance to provide the developers a $1 million loan from its revolving loan fund without the requirement of any jobs being created or retained.