Stellar Site Visit 2017

State Stellar Evaluation Team with the Culver sign

Yesterday was the Stellar Site Visit in Culver. Despite some stress, it went well. Everyone hit their marks, attendance from State representatives was good and distractions were limited to one plan blowing off an easel and one sea-plane doing touch-and-go’s on the Lake. Now it’s down to waiting to see what happens. For anyone interested, below is the outline of my presentation at Sand Hill Farm. (It’s an outline, so it’s not word for word) Top representatives from Culver’s three largest employers stood with me. Karen Shuman – Superintendent of Culver Community Schools, Josh Pretzer – Dean of Faculty at Culver Academies and Brian Meek – Plant Manager at Elkay Industries. They all spoke eloquently about the need for entry-level housing in Culver. One thing that seems to come up over and over is the lack of available full time rentals. Sand Hill Farm will address this as it will be all 12 month rentals. Also addressed was the declining numbers for school faculty and plant employees who live in Culver. Hopefully Sand Hill Farm will be an opportunity for people to live and work in Culver… and become part of the community…

I’ve also included some pictures from yesterday’s event. Thanks to all of those that contributed. It was great getting to know everyone better and help work towards the common cause. Now it’s down to waiting for the results. We should know in the next few week.  Cross your fingers for Culver. #CulverisStellar!


TM Jonathan’s introductory pitch at the Beach Lodge

Stellar Presentation – Sand Hill Farm

I’m standing here with Culver’s three largest employers, Brian Meek from Elkay, Karen Shuman from Culver Community Schools and Josh Pretzer from Culver Academies. Culver Academies is also the largest employer in our County.

  1. A Little History about the site
    1. Tourism Rep Becca making her presentation

      The property was previously owned by a great aunt & uncle. I purchased it from their estate in 2005. I lived just to the east and used to play on the property as a kid. We used to refer to it as going to play at the “Sand Hill”. Thus the name I’ve placed on the property.

    2. The Sand Hill used to extend to the west past the current location of State Road 17, but was mined for fill during the relocation of State Road 17.
  2. Affordable/Entry Level Housing
    1. MACOG’s James Turnwald speaking about the Jefferson St Corridor

      The need for affordable housing has been recognized for the past decade. Culver has become a community of “second homes”. Many of these have become retirement homes for their owners.

    2. The need for affordable housing was prominent in our Comprehensive Plan which was completed in 2014, but prior to that, it showed up in various town surveys, and was discussed each election season by candidates for Town Council.
    3. In the Spring of 2014 Elkay applied for a $4.5 million tax abatement. At the meeting when it passed, the Town Council asked if there was anything else they could do to assist them. Elkay asked for help with the housing issue as it was affecting their hiring. This was the catalyst to actually start a Task Force to address this. Discussions began with the two schools, Elkay, MCEDC and representatives from the various Town commissions and boards to put together an Entry Level Housing Task Force.
      1. In November of 2014, I partnered with the Town to represent the Town of Culver at the Affordable Housing Conference in Chicago. That was almost too much information. I was attending the 4oo level class when I needed Affordable Housing 101, but I did make some good contacts and brought back information that was useful.
      2. In 2015, the Task Force began meeting in earnest, examining 6 sites throughout the town, sending RFP’s to developers and generally getting a handle on what our resources were and what was needed.
      3. This site, Sand Hill Farm, was selected as the best option for available infrastructure, expandability and a landowner that believed in the cause. (Me)
      4. Most of 2015 was spent in this assessment. It was determined that we wanted a mix of housing types to expand our appeal and expand our accessibility to various targets in our market.
      5. While we had made progress, we were left at an impasse. In 2015 MCEDC arranged a meeting with the OCRA director to discuss options and it was there that we were directed to consider a Stellar Community application.
  3. 2016 Stellar
    1. Park Supe Anna presenting the Beach Lodge Renovations

      When Stellar was discussed in 2016, Housing was the prominent goal on our agenda. Housing is the truly transformative need to address. It will help our employers, put children back in the school and provide the critical mass to make most of the rest of the projects flourish. The more we talked, everything came back to housing. Hopefully that was reflected in our application.

  4. After 2016 Stellar
    1. We were disappointed that we didn’t achieve Stellar status, but we recognized that it didn’t change the housing issues that had been building for years. We continued to move forward. To this end:
      1. The property has been subdivided and annexed.
      2. A Special Use Variance was obtained through the BZA to allow multifamily apartments on the property.
      3. The Zoning Ordinance section on Planned Unit Developments was updated in anticipation of this project’s next step. The Planned Unit Development plans are underway.
      4. An allocation of $270,000 was committed through Regional Cities towards housing on this site. Our SIP (Strategic Investment Plan) from Stellar 2016 was instrumental in selling the need. It also sparked conversations throughout the County and two other communities were awarded Regional Cities money for housing projects.
      5. Park Supe Anna presenting the Damore Amphitheater Project

        A partnership was formed with Elkay Cabinets. They will be providing cabinets, sinks and faucets at a reduced cost.

      6. $400k in infrastructure money has been committed by the Redevelopment Commission which has been matched with $400k in other town funds through their streets, water and sewer funds.
      7. An Economic Development Commission has been created and the site has been designated as an Economic Development Target Area which clears the way for a Tax Abatement. A Tax Abatement hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday.
      8. The Right of Way has been dedicated to the Town and as you can see, clearing is underway.
      9. A development agreement has been executed between the Town and Sand Hill Farm
      10. Plans are also nearly complete on a 24 unit apartment building. There is a set at the Beach Lodge if anyone wants to look at them at the end of the tour.
      11. Plans are nearly complete on the road and infrastructure construction which the town will be handling.
    2. Stellar 2017
      1. Mike Reese from Troyer Group and Dana Neer & Don Fox from Culver Academies presenting the Trail project

        In our current application we’ve worked to more clearly tie the housing project to the rest of the projects. While that was the case last year we’ve strengthened those connections.

        1. The bike & walking trail will have a stop here and the open space provided will tie into that trail.
        2. The Jefferson Street Corridor improvement will enhance the connection to the Town. We want these residents to be part of the community. We are targeting Elkay employees with this development and we want them to make the after hours connection as well as the work connection.
        3. Long range, this the extended section of property to the north backs up to the Little League diamonds which are included on the Cavelier Park project.
        4. While the other projects don’t touch this one directly, they all enhance Culver’s livability and frankly, EVERYTHING in Culver is within walking distance.
      2. Karen Shuman from Culver Community Schools discussing the connections and benefits of Cavalier Park

        We’ve talked to Elkay, the schools and some local residents about education programs that can be offered to residents here. Things like opportunities to learn about finances, nutrition and continuing education for advancement.

      3. We feel the PUD with the mixed use will provide the best opportunity to integrate the new residents into the community and provide some New Urbanism opportunities. There will be a mix of apartments and single family residences through duplexes and townhouses on the site.
      4. The development agreement includes a site for a Habitat for Humanity home, again enhancing that town connection.
      5. We’ve had several meetings with IHCDA representatives over the past two years. (Name Carmen, Samantha and Dani if they’re here.) We’ve explored several of their programs with them, but the only one that seems to apply at our scale is the Tax Credit Housing program. Unfortunately, we don’t have an infill site, a brownfield site or a dilapidated building to renovate, so we’re unlikely to score well for in the general competition for those funds. Stellar is our “in” to qualify. If we don’t make Stellar this year, as with last year, that just means we have to change our target and work the housing differently… as we did this past year.

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