(left to right) Sean O’Brein - Northpointe Development, Cal Schultz - Northpointe Development, Shreedhar Ranabhat - WHEDA, LaVon “Spanky” Felton - Viroqua Development Association, State Representative Loren Oldenberg, Jake Victor - Northpointe Development, Justin Running - Viroqua Mayor, Governor Tony Evers, Mike Harbaugh - Old National Bank, Lane Manning - DreamLane Real Estate, State Senator Brad Pffaf (Tim Hundt photo)

Gov. Evers attends groundbreaking for 65 unit workforce housing project in downtown Viroqua

VIROQUA, Wis. – On Thursday the Northpointe Development Corporation and the city of Viroqua held a groundbreaking ceremony for a 65 unit workforce housing project that will also include a daycare and new retail space in downtown Viroqua. Company representatives along with state and local officials, as well as key stakeholders that made the project possible were also on hand to celebrate the culmination of process that took years to get the project to the construction phase.

The development, which will be known as the Main Street Apartments will be located at 602 N. Main Street and is adjacent to N. Rock Avenue, W. Broadway Street, and N. Main Street. It is the location of the former Vernon County Highway Shop. The project is centrally located near the Viroqua Food Co-op, Walgreens and walking distance from downtown, schools and parks. The development includes 65 dwelling units, 3,121 square feet of commercial space, and a 5,945 square foot daycare center that will be leased to the city for a dollar to help reduce the cost to a daycare provider.

Viroqua Mayor Justin Running at the groundbreaking of the new Main Street Apartments in downtown Viroqua

Jake Victor with Northpointe Development said one of the main reasons the project made it across the finish line was because of the support of the city staff and Mayor Justin Running.

“Northpointe Development has been building affordable housing for a very long time,” said Victor. “What we’ve learned is that it really takes a community to take a strong initiative, stand up. You know, not only contribute financially to projects like this to get them across the finish line, but really the leadership and I have to I have to give a special thanks to Mayor Running. Nate (city administrator Nate Torres), Sarah, Granger (City Engineer and Public Works Director), Lori (City Clerk Lori Polhamus), the entire city of Viroqua for taking such a strong leadership.”

Jake Victor – Northpointe Devlopment

Victor said the project needed a lot of pieces to come together for it to happen but one of the keys was a $6 million from the state of Wisconsin the “Neighborhood Investment Fund” that was originally funded though federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. That piece allowed them to add other pieces to the project to the project that would give it even more impact for the whole area.

“We wanted to build affordable housing,” said Victor. “As an affordable housing developer here in the state, we knew that this project would be competitive with WHEDA (Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development), that we had a good chance of securing tax credits. But we were facing a lot of a lot of challenges with the site as well. It’s fairly contaminated. It’s in a rural community, higher construction costs. We wanted to do underground parking to provide that amenity to the community. But then also you take a step back for a second and you realize, you know, the city of Viroqua hasn’t had an affordable housing project and I don’t know, decades, if ever. How how can you make this more impactful than just housing? I go into a lot of rural communities with this concept and idea of health and wellness. And it means something different in every community that we go into it. We execute that a different way on every project. And sure, Governor Evers and his administration put together something called the Neighborhood Investment Fund. With that, that was our signal with the city to say, hey, we’re going to make this about more than just housing. So now we’ve added 6000 square feet of childcare space, 3000 square feet of retail space. There’s a huge need for both of those elements in a rural community like this. The main street (in Viroqua) is nearly full if not at 100 percent occupancy, childcare is at full occupancy in the entire region. So this was really just an opportunity for us to step up with the city and get a really impactful project done.”

Victor said the community support they received and the feedback the community provided was incredibly positive and made the project better in the end.

“You know when you go into a community, you never know what to expect,” said Victor. “How are the neighbors going react? How’s the community going react? Viroqua is really a special place. You know, we came in here, neighbors came to meetings. Maybe you remember, neighbors would come to meetings and they didn’t say not NIMBY, not not in my backyard. They’d say YIMBY and, you know, add some solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations, and where’s the green space? And hey, can you push the building back a little bit so that we have more space when we’re turning the corner? It it was that type of conversation. And the Planning Commission, the City Council, they all stepped stepped up as well, realizing just what an impactful project this could be. So, on behalf of Northpointe, on behalf of everybody here today, thank you for stepping up. Thank you for helping us get this project done. And we’re really excited about what the impact will be on the entire region.”

Governor Evers said several agencies in his administration assisted if various aspects of the project to help make it come together.

Governor Tony Evers

“Thank you agency partners and all those who have given countless hours of their time and your time to make this project possible,” said Evers. “My administration has supported this project with funding through several state agency programs including as mentioned before, the successful Neighborhood Investment Fund programs through Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Corporation, and also the DOA’s Home rental housing development program. You know folks that, it doesn’t matter where we are, whether it’s here in the Driftless Area or in the heart of our largest cities. The need for affordable housing is one of those issues that I hear most about is I travel across the state, and I do that often. It’s also an issue that connects the dots between some of our most pressing issues facing our state. That’s why last year I signed a package of park bipartisan bills to address some of the main major issues that Wisconsinites are facing, including need for workforce housing and ensuring that housing that we do have is safe.”

Evers said it is developments like this one that help economic development in so many other areas.

The positive impact the Main Street Apartments will have on this community is undeniable. It’s efforts like this that help us get closer to a brighter future for Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers

“The new building will not only provide 65 affordable units for low income individuals, but will also prioritize…and this is really cool….several units for veterans, create 6000 square foot childcare center and provide retail spaces that will support local employers and stimulate economic growth in the area,” said Evers. “Developments like this are really important because they help support the economic health and vitality of Wisconsin’s rural communities. Providing essential services like childcare so folks to get to work and be successful. On top of that this Johnson Greenbelt Gold Standard building will help us reach our goal is becoming more environmentally responsible as a state through those solar panels on the roof and other sustainability efforts. The positive impact the Main Street Apartments will have on this community is undeniable. It’s efforts like this that help us get closer to a brighter future for Wisconsin. So I just thank you.

State Senator Brad Pfaff

State Senator Brad Pfaff said it is projects like this that highlight how much is happening in Viroqua, Vernon County and the region.

“There’s a lot that’s happening in Vernon County,” said Pfaff. “There’s a lot that’s happening right here on the Main Street in Viroqua. This is a region of the state in which people feel welcome. They come here. They wanna stay here, they wanna be a part of this family. And I am so grateful to represent this area in the Wisconsin State Senate, and I thank you for the work that you do.”

State Representative Loren Oldenburg said the project is a great opportunity and will be instrumental for the area not just for the people who live there but the impact to housing stock.

“I was just talking to my cousin,” said Oldenburg. “He’s getting up in years and maybe wants to downsize. There’s no place to downsize, and this gives an opportunity. Then on the backside maybe it opens up their house for other people to come here and and live. So this is a great opportunity.”

State Rep. Loren Oldenburg

Oldenburg said there are so many things that happen behind the scenes to make these projects happen that no one sees.

“I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in this,” said Oldenburg. “Northpointe, the city, the county, all the hard work that happened behind the scenes we’ve got here. Thanks the governor for coming here. I always give him a hard time. He’s here so often. He’s going to become a resident.”

Viroqua Mayor Justin Running said the very first day as Mayor he met with several people about the site and what needed to happen to do a project.

Viroqua Mayor Justin Running

“This is the first, the first day as Mayor,” said Running. “My first day. Myself, Spanky. (Lavon Felton), Jake (Victor with Northpointe) Nate (City Administrator Nate Torres) and Kurt (Muchow with Vierbecher and Assoc.) sat down and had a meeting. And we talked about what they wanted to do here. It was literally my first day as Mayor. We talked about this. But here we are, what, two years and a month later? It’s happening. So, the work that went into this to make this happen by the city staff, the folks of the state of Wisconsin is unbelievable. There’s a lot of work to be done here. I thank the Governor so much for all of his support for coming here and all the support he gives to the Viroqua area. It certainly doesn’t go unnoticed. So we thank you for that.”

Jake Victor introduced Viroqua Development Association President LaVon “Spanky” Felton and thanked him for helping with citizen and community “buy in” with the project. Felton said people are wondering how this area has so much happening and he said the difference is people working together. Especially the willingness for the county to work with the city to move the project forward.

VDA President LaVon “Spanky” Felton

“We had the partnership between VDA, the city, the county and making this happen because that’s what it takes,” said Felton. “And I talked to other people and other communities, and other states and they asked me questions like, what are you guys doing over there? Why does this happen? And it’s, it’s just the partnerships. It’s the people. It’s people sitting down saying this is going to happen. We’re going to make this happen. How do we do this? How do we move forward? And, that, you know, those things coming together with great leadership from the Mayor, and Nate Torres has been instrumental . But I just wanted to say that that’s the difference here. It’s the people that get together and decide we’re gonna make this happen. We’re gonna make good things happen. And today is a great day for me. This is a great thing. I’m so excited about this.”

But I just wanted to say that that’s the difference here. It’s the people that get together and decide we’re gonna make this happen. We’re gonna make good things happen. And today is a great day for me. This is a great thing. I’m so excited about this.

Viroqua Development Association President LaVon “Spanky” Felton

Rents are based on incomes and they are designed to make rents affordable for working people and families. Northpointe has calculated what they expect those rents will likely look like based on average incomes as they stand today. Below is that analysis they provided to the city.

What does income and rent restricting the development to households earning between 30% and 80% of Area Median Income mean?

Northpointe Development utilizes the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program to finance the majority of our developments throughout the State of Wisconsin. Main Street Apartments will be rent and income restricted as shown below:

Households must income qualify to live in Main Street Apartments, units will be set aside for families earning between 30 – 80% of Area Median Income. 

Maximum Income to qualify for an affordable unit:

Area Median IncomeOne PersonTwo PersonsThree PersonsFour Persons

Rents at each Income Level (Maximum, Currently Proposed):

Area Median IncomeOne-BedroomTwo-BedroomThree-Bedroom
30%$478 ($390)$573 ($464)$663 ($533)
50%$796 ($653)$956 ($779)$1,105 ($898)
80%$1,275 ($750)$1,530 ($900)$1,768 ($1,100)

Number of Units at Each Income Level:

Area Median IncomeOne-BedroomTwo-BedroomThree-Bedroom

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