ACINE — Gold Medal Lofts, 1701 Packard Ave, had its grand opening Tuesday afternoon after an $18 million investment and rehabilitation on the former Gold Medal Camp Furniture Manufacturing Co. in the Uptown neighborhood.
The project was a joint venture between the development team of J. Jeffers & Co. and Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan as well as the City of Racine and Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.
“I’m very pleased to formally announce that after investing $18.3 million into this project, we have successfully converted what was an old, quiet building into what is now a beautiful and safe residential community,” J. Jeffers president and CEO Joshua Jeffers said.
The project took just over a year, with crews breaking ground June 6, 2019. The building now features 77 workforce units that includes one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. The mix is three studio units, 35 one-bedroom apartments, 16 two-bedroom units and 23 three-bedroom apartments.
The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority awarded the Gold Medal Lofts project about $955,000 in federal 9% tax credits, which Jeffers said is about $8.7 million in tax credit equity, to produce more affordable apartments. This resulted in 65 of the 77 units being set aside with affordable rents.
These affordable units will have rents based on 60%, 50% and 30% of median county income. Racine County has a median household income of $59,747, according to United States Census Bureau data. The remaining 12 units will rent at market rate. Rents range from $354 per month for studios to $1,095 per month for a market rate three-bedroom unit.
“We took a great historic building and we saved it,” Racine Mayor Cory Mason said. “We found an opportunity to put affordable housing units in this space, we’ve got a great partner in Lutheran Social Services and we made sure to include area residents in the economic opportunity that came along with building this facility out.”
Workers get a second chance
Of the construction contracts used to complete the contract, 45% were given to local certified minority owned or women owned small businesses according to Jeffers. J. Jeffers also hired 16 new positions, which Jeffers said were unemployed or underemployed residents of Racine.
Of those unemployed or underemployed 16 new hires, Jeffers said one of the individuals was homeless, and most were recently incarcerated or on parole. With more than 5,600 hours of paid work on an average wage of $16.50, Jeffers said the project put “about $100,000 into the hands of previously unemployed residents of this neighborhood.”
“I think we can all safely declare mission accomplished on the bricks and mortar aspects of this development,” Jeffers said. “But now, the real work begins to transform this newly beautifully rehabilitated building into a supportive, safe, upwardly mobile residential community.”