The city is looking to break even with a small affordable housing development it is planning on Eau Claire’s west side.
On Tuesday afternoon, the City Council approved buying about 20 acres of vacant land near Jeffers Road for $150,000.
Next year the city plans to install a street, water and sewer pipes, which finance director Jay Winzenz said should cost “in the neighborhood of $400,000 to $500,000.”
The city anticipates that selling lots in the new development to builders who would then make small single-family homes there should recoup public dollars spent on the project.
“The proceeds from the sale of the lots would be used to offset the costs of those improvements,” Winzenz said.
How many lots will be created is not yet known, but Winzenz estimated there will be between 25 and 30. To ensure the homes are affordable, the city will create rules builders must follow when it comes to the size and sale price of the homes in the development.
About half of the land is unbuildable due to a steep hill.
Councilman Jeremy Gragert viewed the hill as an opportunity for the city to conserve some wooded land and even create a spot for hiking.
“There’s more here than an affordable housing opportunity,” he said. “There’s a lot of different ways we can look at this.”
The property is located off the east side of Jeffers Road, tucked behind existing homes between Truax Boulevard and Union Pacific railroad tracks. Decades ago it had been partially platted — planning an as-yet unbuilt road called Andy Lane off of Jeffers Road to provide access to the new homes.
The city is buying the property from Paul Del Torto.
The council voted 10-0 in favor of the land buy with council President Terry Weld abstaining. Weld, who works as a real estate agent, had represented the property for three years, but withdrew himself from the listing when the city showed interest in the land. Following Tuesday’s meeting, he said he recused himself from the vote to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest and confirmed that neither he nor his employer will receive any commission from the sale.
Also during Tuesday’s meeting:
• Though it didn’t reject Valley Media Works’ offer of just $100 for the former Fire Station No. 10, 559 N. Hastings Way, the council did decide in a 9-2 vote to get the building tested for asbestos and then market it in the future for other potential offers.
• The city accepted a $19,950 grant from the Presto Foundation, allowing the Eau Claire Fire Department to buy two gear extractors — essentially high-tech washing machines — that clean contaminants, including carcinogens, off of clothing worn when fighting fires.
• Annexing 40.8 acres of land at the southwest corner of Old Town Hall and Graff roads in the town of Washington into Eau Claire city limits was approved in an 11-0 vote.