by Jazzmine Haygood, MCJ Intern
The Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM) Board of Commissioners held its annual meeting Wednesday, July 10 in an unusual place…outdoors at the new Westlawn Gardens to celebrate its opening as a new low income housing development on Milwaukee’s northwest side.
“I could not be more proud… (HACM) has demonstrated you can provide quality houses for people with low income,” said Mayor Tom Barrett in his remarks before the official start of the meeting.
Chaired by Ald. Willie Hines, the commissioners heard an update on the Westlawn Gardens development, reviewed the financial report, and the approval of an offer by two residents to purchase a home located in the 4100 block of North 40th street.
The Housing Authorities partner representatives were there to talk about their participation in Westlawn Gardens. Some of their partners are Democratic National Committee (DNC), Milwaukee Fire Department, Fund for Lake Michigan, Silver Spring Neighborhood Center, UWM Nursing Center and many more. Westlawn Gardens provides environmentally friendly, quality living for residents at an affordable price.
Westlawn was revitalized because of basement and neighborhood flooding in the units of the old Westlawn housing development. The housing development project also created jobs and is on track to raising home values in the surrounding area.
Already, Westlawn Gardens leads the city in the development of energy efficient homes.
Unique aspects of the new Westlawn includes the construction of bioswales, which help deal with the area’s flooding problem, and LED lighting.
By using LED lights, the city should save 46% on electrical usage. Other features are solar ready mechanicals (for the future installation of solar panels), drought resistant plantings, street source heating and cooling, the use of high-rated insulation materials in the units, and weather resistant finishes.
Since 2009, HACM started to develop a plan to change Westlawn, located on 62nd and Custer.
In October of 2010, the plan was completed and approved and in June 2011 demolition started.
By 2012, construction started, and by November 250 units had been constructed. Covering 37 acres of urban development are 94 one-bedroom and 156 family units.
Warren Jones, Director of Development said, “The ultimate goal is to give it a neighborhood feel and a destination for people who want to live there.”
There are brown, yellow, red, gray and white houses. “The buildings are designed to integrate with housing in the surrounding area, creating a strong neighborhood feel,” Jones said.
There are single, multi-family and apartment homes, as well as a playground for children.
Currently, HACM is actively seeking funding to revitalize the western half of Westlawn. But for now they’re going to continue developing it as a mixed-income and mix use neighborhood.
HACM is also preparing a grant application for a CHOICE Neighborhoods grant, which would provide up to $30 million to jumpstart that work. Work will begin on the western half of Westlawn shortly after they obtain funding.