Former Prairie Maison property gets new direction

By Caitlin Bittner

At the Aug. 28 meeting of the Prairie du Chien Redevelopment Authority, several plans for the former Prairie Maison property were discussed.

Dale Klemme, the executive director of Community Development Alternatives, Inc. (CDA), opened the meeting with some background on the project, reminding attendees of the goals of this particular property.

“We want what is developed to be inviting and an asset to the community, but we don’t want it to compete with other projects,” said Klemme who then referred to the ongoing 22nd Street project.

In cooperation with Dimension IV Madison Design Group and The Hirsch Group, LLC, the CDA was able to come up with several different development options. Keeping all the July listening session comments in mind, the groups ended up with a lot of conflicting ideas. “We came up with five plans, but they have variations,” said Tom Hirsch of Hirsch Group, LLC, who noted that they hoped to narrow the amount of options from 12 to two by the end of the meeting.

While Hirsch made his presentation about each of the options that could be picked, questions arose. “Who is the target for this area?” asked Tom Nelson, community member.

Around this subject, concern was raised by neighboring residents about whether or not the new area would be geared toward “low income” housing. Redevelopment Authority Chairman Bob Standorf then explained that the future properties were to be looked at as lower cost housing because of their affordability.

According to Gary Koch, of CDA, the targeted group for this area will focus on older demographics and new families. “We want to try to make the new homes affordable for new couples and elderly people who still want to be independent,” Koch explained.

Another feature of the development supported by Koch was the space reserved for a small park, regardless of whether or not playground equipment is installed. “[The property] just needs a space where kids can throw a ball around and have fun,” he added.

City Administrator Aaron Kramer also noted that the addition of apartment spaces would be beneficial. “People are in desperate need of apartment spaces,” commented Kramer.

Following the design presentation, the major issues the property development needed to address, according to members of the Redevelopment Authority, were stormwater drainage, not overloading the property and reducing the upfront costs to future buyers.

The chosen design plans were both very different, which was purposely done in order to give more distinct options. The first choice will feature single family “starter” homes, seven-unit multi-family housing and a park with a water retention pond. The second option will have single family “starter” homes, duplexes, a pocket park, a retention pond and a road winding through it.

Costs for the projects have yet to be determined, but are scheduled for discussion at the next meeting of the Redevelopment Authority on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 5:30 p.m. CDA is confident that if everything comes together correctly, construction could start as early as next spring.

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