From Manny Vasquez
Re: Housing in the Fox Cities
Thank you to those of you who attended last week’s meeting regarding temporary downtown housing, as well as those who shared feedback via phone and email.
After a couple of group meetings, and several one-on-one discussions with many of you, we are all on the same page: a temporary employee’s first impression and overall experience in our region, has a major impact on their decision to stay or return to the Fox Cities long-term. To that end, this collaboration is focused on creating more “Fox Cities stickiness” by providing contemporary, short-term housing options that our target audience – i.e. interns, co-ops, trainees, executives – find attractive and engaging.
Several of you who could not attend last week’s meeting requested follow-up notes. Here is a recap:
- Our friend Bob Monnet, CFO of Mandel Group in Milwaukee, joined us by phone to talk about his experience with employment-oriented housing. Bob walked us through a few projects that he and his company have recently completed to serve a similar corporate need in the Milwaukee area, which also struggles to retain and attract top talent. Here are some notes that I took during his presentation:
- o There are different types of temporary employees – interns, co-ops, executives, etc. They all demand a high-quality product and experience.
- o The Milwaukee-based companies that Mandel has worked with believe they can attract temporary employees with a good job opportunity, but will keep them with the right housing experience.
- o Location should highlight the community’s best attributes – it engages and connects the employee to the community, and leaves a memorable impression.
- o Being in, or walking distance from, a downtown is very important.
- o On-site amenities (rooftop gardens, game/media rooms, grocery stores, workout facilities), as well as walkable amenities (goods, services, entertainment, recreational activities), are a critical component of these properties (“live-work-play” mentality).
- o A higher-density project allows for a more robust amenities package – it justifies the cost to provide/maintain them.
- o Property amenities are a great way to bring people together and, in the process, strengthen relationships and roots in a community.
- o This is a fairly unique type of project – a cross between a dorm, apartment building, and hotel.
- o A corporate housing project like this doesn’t have to be created to address short-term needs alone. It can/should be mixed with longer-term, market-rate housing. If the experience is positive enough, tenants may want to return to the same property long-term.
- o There are a number of financing tools available – TIF financing, WHEDA tax credits, etc. – to support a project like this.
- o It will be difficult to make the project work if there is only demand two/three months out of the year. Our goal in the Fox Cities should be to aggregate demand among local employers, and approach this project collaboratively.
In order to move this project to the next phase, we need your help. Attached is a short survey in spreadsheet format, which will help our company better understand your organization’s temporary employee flow and housing needs in the Fox Cities. Please answer these questions to the best of your ability and return your completed spreadsheet to me via email by Wed. March 21st, 2018. We will then aggregate the data and use it to determine the feasibility of a temporary, corporate housing project in our community. Please note that this information will be kept confidential, and will only be utilized for the purpose of this project.
Let me know if you have any questions, and thank you for helping to move this effort forward!
Temporary corporate housing survey, 3.9.18.xlsx
VP - Business Development
Pfefferle Companies, Inc.