Joy Place is an alley, with an abandoned building, an old foundation of a barn and a dilapidated shed… and a whole lot of trouble.
For years, neighbors have been concerned about safety on the derelict property. It is directly across from Reiche Community School.
Now a West End neighbor of 15 years, with three children at Reiche, has stepped up to develop the location into affordable for sale housing.
Todd Alexander has entered into a contract to buy the abandoned building at 1 Joy Place. He wants to create between 20 and 24 units that would be sold, not rented.
He believes that in order to create a successful project, he also needs to purchase the city-owned parking lot at 157 Brackett Street that abuts Joy Place. The City uses the lot for parking for teachers.
“For me this isn’t a housing project, it’s more than that,” said Todd Alexander at a recent Housing and Community Development Committee (HCDC) hearing.
His stated goals for the project include eliminating the current unsafe conditions at Joy Place, creating affordable housing, working with the City to install traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures, and improving parking for Reiche teachers.
The HCDC held a hearing to approve a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the city-owned teachers’ lot. The RFP process is the only open process the City has to sell its property.
The RFP process revealed itself as a clunky mechanism for this type of purchase. At the HDCD meeting City Councilors and potential developer Todd Alexander practically held public negotiations.
Currently, Todd is the only potential bidder, and likely his proposal will be the only one, since he has 1 Joy Place under contract.
The developer and Councilors amicably went back and forth over how to define affordable housing in the RFP and how do deal with parking.
Neighbors’ top concerns at the hearing revolved around parking and traffic congestion. No one disagreed that the property needs to be dealt with for immediate safety reasons.
“The parking really is going to be the big issue,” said West Ender Nance Parker.
With the just completed building on the corner of Brackett and Pine and now the potential for up to 24 more units at Joy Place half a block down the road, neighbors are concerned that there will be insufficient parking, too much vehicular traffic, and unsafe conditions for the students and others in the community.
“I’ve seen Bracket Street — in the last eight years I’ve been there — explode,” said neighbor Brian Chick.
Brian wanted to stress that a housing project at Joy Place should not only replace the lost teachers’ parking spaces, but do so in a way that is secure.
The RFP was approved by the Committee. Below are some of key provisions it requires for a successful proposal:
The assessed value of the City lot is $126,300.