Located in the Greenbush neighborhood, Bayview is one of the oldest affordable housing communities in Madison. Now a $50 million redevelopment plan to nearly double the available affordable housing and build a new community center is underway, as elected officials and community partners joined Bayview residents and staff for a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday morning.
Alexis London is Executive Director of the Bayview Foundation. She says that the five-year planning process was unique in centering resident engagement.
“With creativity, sustainability, and resident voice at the center of our planning process, we developed strong partnerships and moved ahead with an extremely unique engagement process focused on the residents understanding their needs, values and desires. What we learned is that when you listen with care, curiosity and compassion, and you learn together and work in collaboration, real change is possible.”
Local leaders took care to note the differences between this resident-focused redevelopment and the urban renewal project of the 1960’s that displaced Madison’s immigrant, multicultural community in the Greenbush neighborhood.
“My family roots go back to this neighborhood. It’s where my father grew up; my grandparents immigrated here from Sicily. And as we know, the last time this community was redeveloped, in the sixties, it was done to the community, not with the community. As a result, a culture and hundreds of families were displaced, and a lot was lost in how that occurred. And I could not be more thrilled that this community is honoring its roots by doing it right this time, because our immigrant community is so important to who we are,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.
Alder Tag Evers, who represents Bayview on the Madison Common Council, called it restorative development.
“We could have reneged on our commitment to this community. We could have displaced people. But we did not. This redevelopment project has become a template and signpost for how development can and should be done, including involving those impacted,” said Evers.
Xai Wa Yang has been a Bayview resident for more than three decades. He was hired as a maintenance man because he spoke three languages: Lao, Hmong, and English. He says that he’s been busy trying to keep the fifty-year-old infrastructure up to date.
Nina Okwali is from Nigeria and has lived in Bayview for about two decades. She describes Bayview as a place for international people.
“It brings a lot of people from different countries, different cultural backgrounds, coming together under one roof so we have a common ground. It’s a family oriented place, with programs that brings kids together, and programs that bring adults together.”
Okwali affirms that residents were central part of the redevelopment planning process, everything from picking out colors to making sure that children are still safe when playing outside.
Two apartment buildings – a 48-unit four-story building, and a 25-unit three-story building – are slated to open in 2022. 57 two-story townhouses are expected to be completed in 2023 and 2024.
Meanwhile, the Bayview Foundation’s capital campaign is seeking to raise $4 million for a new, 11,000 square foot community center slated to open in the spring of 2023.