Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office


March 09, 2017
County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan, 608.333.2285
County Board

Meeting Monday regarding use of the Messner property to leverage project in Tenney-Lapham neighborhood


In a move to provide affordable housing in a popular east-side neighborhood, there will be a community meeting Monday evening to discuss the redevelopment of the former Messner Inc. property on East Washington Avenue.


The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the Christ Presbyterian Church at 944 East Gorham Street.


The county purchased the Messner property at 1326 E. Washington Ave. in 2015 with the idea of providing a day center for the homeless but those plans failed to materialize.


County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan said the vacant Messner property now presents an opportunity to open serious discussions about adding more affordable rental housing units in the downtown. 


Corrigan said discussions would involve Dane County, the city of Madison, the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood and other stakeholders.


“In the event the County  is approached by or on behalf of a party that expresses interest in exchanging the Messner site  for an alternative site in the near East Washington Corridor (between Blair and 1st St.), that would be evaluated as well,” Corrigan said.  “There is clearly a need in the neighborhood for more affordable housing.”


Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, whose district includes the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood, said the tremendous growth in the area has only put more pressure on housing costs.


“I applaud the Tenney Lapham Neighborhood Association for its  push for more affordable housing in the near east side and I look forward to Monday's meeting.  It is important to engage the neighborhood early in the development process” Wegleitner said.


Wegleitner said she was encouraged that public officials have recognized the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood as “a great place to pursue affordable housing for families.”


The County Board designated the Messner property for “mixed income” rental housing. That would include units priced for very low income residents making below 50 percent of the county median income and extremely low income families making below 30 percent of the county median income.


The county would not build or operate the housing on its own but rather would look to work with a private developer. A request for proposals (RFP) would be drafted with input from a variety of sources. The goal is to have responses to the RFP by June.


“I think everybody involved wants to get moving forward on this as quickly as possible,” said Corrigan.