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Altoona development report shows a need for housing in growing community

Wednesday, February 28, 2024
Sam Fristed | WQOW.COM

ALTOONA (WQOW) - The City of Altoona released its 2023 development report that outlines the current state of housing in the area - and there's work to be done.

Altoona has a population of about 9,000 residents and growing. With an increase in people, city leaders said they're doing the best they can to keep up with demand but they are falling behind.

In 2023, the city issued 175 new dwelling units, bringing the total to over 4,700 total units. That's 80 more spaces built than in 2022, but it's not all good news.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Administration, Altoona is in the top 10% of fastest growing communities in the state. However, the city reports they are experiencing a disproportionate level of residential development within the region.

"We should be permitting about 33,000 new dwelling units per year (in the state) to meet the demand by 2030 but we're currently only permitting about 21,000 so we have a significant gap between what we need to be permitting and what we actually are permitting," said Planning Director Taylor Greenwell.

He said the city plans to solve the issue by rewriting its outdated zoning codes. This includes making it easier to build more affordable units, streamlining the contractor approval process, and getting rid of arbitrary development laws.

Right now the city has multiple ongoing developments including the large Bartlett Crossing Project which will have about 70 unit multi-family units.

Greenwell said the city is excited about the space and added they hope the final lots will be approved for development this year.

Despite the jubilation - Greenwell said the city is still struggling with problems out of their control. These include inflation, workforce shortages, the rising costs of materials, and financing difficulties.

The city doesn't have any finalized plans for breaking ground on new developments in 2024, just proposals.

The city is projecting about 230 new units will be added in 2024 from projects that started in previous years.

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