From an article by Dustin Block in The Daily Reporter:
Ken Lumpkin cautions against poor timing as Racine closes in on building an environmentally sound housing development in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
“The whole area needs to be cleared out, new sod put down, and the lot should be utilized as a park until the economy makes a turnaround,” said Lumpkin, a member of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Racine, about the site of a former homeless shelter torn down earlier this year to make room for development.
“It’s a fragile area directly across the street from an elementary school,” he said. . . .
The city hired Pragmatic Construction LLC, Milwaukee, for preliminary work on the site, and the city is reviewing the results, O’Connell said. He said he wants to give a report to the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Racine, which is in charge of the project, by November.
The challenge for developers of the green housing project is to build affordable new homes in a neighborhood with deteriorating housing stock, said Juli Kaufmann, co-owner of Pragmatic. Homes surrounding the property are valued at about $50,000, according to Racine County property tax data.
But the green, high-efficiency homes Pragmatic specializes in could be the perfect fit for a low-income neighborhood, Kaufmann said. With lower heating and gas bills, the homes would be cheap to run, and they’re built from durable materials that eliminate the need to paint or repair exteriors.
“We certainly think about that, and our clients talk about that,” Kaufmann said. “It’s on the table. The objective would be to figure out how to build reasonably affordable homes with homes across the street selling for $50,000. It’s impossible to build any size home at that price today.”
The city likely would support construction of a spec home on the site and then recruit builders to take on a certain number of lots on the property, O’Connell said. The property could support roughly 10 homes, and could possibly include multifamily homes.
O’Connell said building green homes keeps to the city’s commitment to environmentally responsible construction and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.