Open Letter to the Residents of Riverwest

Ms. Tess Reiss Riverwest Neighborhood Association 733 E. Clarke St. Milwaukee, WI 53212 RE: Open Letter to the Residents of Riverwest Dear Tess: On behalf of Tandem Developers, I would like to thank the Riverwest Neighborhood Association for allowing us to present our plan for new single family homes on the Johnson Controls site. We are very excited about the opportunity to turn a brownfield site into something positive and beautiful that the community will be proud of. We firmly believe that our plan will achieve that goal, and that we are the right company for the job. It was encouraging to see that so many people care about their neighborhood, and we were glad to hear residents’ thoughts and concerns. From the beginning of the proposal process in November, we have actively sought out neighborhood input by attending every RNA meeting to learn more about Riverwest. We have also chosen local development team members who are residents of this diverse community and who care deeply about bringing quality development to the neighborhood. rendering.jpg We would like to highlight a few points that may help clarify our proposal and our approach to development in general. Community Involvement First and foremost, we welcome community involvement in the planning and design process. We want to understand your concerns so that we may address them. Riverwest is your neighborhood, and ultimately, the development will be far better if it is a shared vision. For us, this is the very beginning of the communication process. Our goal is to add something special to your community by offering the best possible designs that are in keeping with the historic character of Riverwest. That character is what makes the neighborhood unique and authentic, and we don’t want to change that. Quality Design A great deal of thought and energy went into the design of our homes for Riverwest. You might notice that every home has small details in the facade, the front porch, the rooflines, the windows, and color choices to ensure that no two homes look alike. The homes will include the best quality materials and will not look artificial. They will immediately be part of Riverwest, and will offer new and innovative features for today’s living. City Lot Sizing Our plan envisions 28 homes of different sizes on lot widths ranging from 32′-37′ wide by 117′ deep. Buyers will have a range of choices. As you can see from the diagram below, this lot sizing and density is very much in keeping with the urban character of Riverwest’s blocks. Our plan creates something that fits rather than introducing a suburban model of oversized lots into a city neighborhood. Larger lots will only increase the cost of the homes, which is not our intention. Experienced Local Development Team We are very proud of our local development team for this project. Our architects at Continuum did an excellent job creating designs that are uniquely Riverwest in character. Continuum is a Milwaukee-based women-owned business enterprise with strong expertise in housing and environmentally responsible design. We have also chosen Titan Construction, a locally based contractor with a proven track record of delivering homes on time and on budget. Titan is also a great community partner. They work with and mentor Emerging Business Enterprise subcontractors on many of their projects. Their record is phenomenal, and we are glad to have them as our construction partner. We are also proud to have Drake Environmental with us to manage the clean-up of the site. Drake is leading Milwaukee environmental consultant, and their point person for this project is D.J. Burns, an excellent engineer and a long time Riverwest resident. D.J. knows a great deal about the site and its challenges. He is committed to making sure that it gets cleaned up properly and will be safe for future residents. Focus on Community Development Again, we would like to emphasize that we are exclusively Midwest urban homebuilders that specialize in redeveloping former industrial sites. This experience makes us uniquely suited to redevelop the Johnson Controls site. We have been building homes in Milwaukee over the last 7 years, and we hope to continue to invest in your city for many years to come. We focus purely on redevelopment efforts to improve city neighborhoods. We do not develop malls or offices. We do not build subdivisions in the suburbs. Instead, we stick to what we do best, which is community development. We listen, and we are flexible to meet the needs of residents. Proven Track Record In Milwaukee’s historic Brewers Hill neighborhood, we transformed a vacant lot into a beautiful collection of 17 traditionally designed single family homes that blend seamlessly into the existing neighborhood. We designed, marketed, and constructed the homes from start to finish. The project is 100% sold out and complete. We delivered on time, and we met our commitments to the residents and the City. We invite you to visit our homes at Brewers Hill at the northeast corner of Brown and Hubbard Street to see what we can do. Compliance with RFP Our plan for Riverwest responds directly to what was asked of us in the “RFP”. We listened carefully, and we conceived a plan that provides detached single family homes that will blend in with the surrounding blocks. We envision homes designed for families who want to plant roots in the neighborhood. We feel that this is a much better plan than offering condominiums, which are not appropriate for this site and which can often be a more transient form of home ownership. It was our understanding that condominiums were not to be included, and we strictly followed those guidelines. Energy Saving Design Features We want to emphasize that our homes include a number of sustainable design features that will make them cheaper to operative and own over time. We have included energy saving appliances, high-efficiency heating and air conditioning systems, better insulation, windows, and exterior materials. We are spending more on the homes up front so that they will last longer and cost less to maintain and operative for years to come. Range of Home Styles and Pricing: We acknowledge the community’s concerns about rising home values in the neighborhood, and we want to emphasize that we will be offering different size homes at different price points. We currently have four model designs ranging from 1,800 SF to 2,200 S.F. of living space on lots ranging from 32′-37′ wide. These new homes will be turnkey and in move-in condition with a builder’s warranty. Unlike re-sale homes, their will be no hidden costs for renovation or remodeling. Coach House Option: We feel that the best approach to affordability is to offer the option for a coach house above the garage. This would give people the opportunity to work from their homes, thereby saving on office rent. They could also provide a suite for an older relative, an artists studio, a playroom, or a quiet retreat. Emerging Business Enterprise Participation It has always been very important to our company to be a community partner. That is why we have committed to exceed the City’s 18% goal for Emerging Business Enterprise Participation (EBE). We have committed to 30% EBE participation in the design and construction work for the homes at Riverwest, and will work to surpass that goal. Market Rate Housing for a Diverse Community Riverwest is a diverse community which is home to working people, artists, musicians, and professionals. That diversity is part of what makes the neighborhood special, and we do not want to change that. We simply want to enhance the neighborhood with excellent quality new homes. We understand the neighborhood’s concerns about “gentrification.” However, we believe that needs to be put in context. The Johnson Controls site is a vacant brownfield that could become a true asset to the community if developed properly. We want to make that vision a reality by building new market rate homes. We are not requesting any government subsidies, nor are we proposing density that is out of context with the surrounding block. In accordance with the RFP, we do not plan to provide any portion of our development as subsidized housing. Once again, we are thrilled about the opportunity to work with the residents of Riverwest to develop homes that the community will be proud of. Our plan is based on the best principles of urban design, our development team is excellent, and our significant experience with community housing and brownfield development will allow us to see this project through to successful completion. If you would like more information on our company and our experience, please visit our website at Please also feel free to contact me directly at 312-245-9000. Sincerely, Jonathan Dennis Tandem Developers LLC