Oliv Madison

The proposed Oliv Madison is located in the spot that was previously home to Casa de Lara.

A new form of affordable housing for university students is moving forward after the City Council approved an agreement with the developer earlier this week.

Now Oliv Madison, a proposed building from student housing developer Core Spaces, will go before the Plan Commission on Nov. 22.

The development, proposed for the 300 block of State Street, would make 10% of its beds available at a discounted rate through an agreement with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the city. The building is expected to have approximately 1,100 beds.

The City Council voted unanimously in favor of the agreement with Core Spaces on Tuesday night. Under the plan, the 112 beds in two-bedroom dwelling units will be leased at a 40% discount of whatever the market rate is.

"(This) really begins to move in a positive way toward addressing some of the challenges of housing faced in the student population," said Brian Munson, principal urban designer at Vandewalle & Associates, at the meeting Tuesday. "This has been many months of effort to get here."

UW’s financial aid office has agreed to a memorandum of understanding with Core Spaces that will allow students receiving financial assistance to use that to rent at Oliv Madison.

Core Spaces traditionally builds luxury student housing nationally. In Madison, the company constructed The James and The Hub downtown. Both of those buildings cater to students from more affluent backgrounds and have relatively upscale amenities.

Oliv Madison is a proposed 10-story, stepped-back building in an area of State Street where most of the buildings are about four stories. Oliv’s building facing State Street would start at four stories and then gradually step back up to 10.

The 10-story proposal is above the allowed maximum height for the State Street area. In order to maximize its chances at receiving approval for the added height, Core Spaces has ventured into the realm of affordable housing for the first time.

Ald. Mike Verveer, who represents District 4 and worked on the agreement between the city and Core Spaces, said working with developers to provide affordable student housing is what Madison needs for the future.

“I hope this is a template and is groundbreaking for us here in Madison,” Verveer said. “Any notion of lower-cost student housing is new.”

Initially, Core Spaces had planned to offer 10% of the beds at a 30% discount to qualified students. Following meetings with the Campus Area Neighborhood Association and Verveer, Core Spaces agreed to offer the discounted rate of 40% to qualified students with one caveat: The affordable beds will now be in separate units from market rate beds.

“Core Spaces presented four options for the neighborhood activists to look at,” Verveer said, referring to CANA and a steering committee that reviewed the proposal. “The one provided that residents are in 2-bed units garnered the most response.”

This option gained the largest consensus, said steering committee chair and former CANA president Amol Goyal, referring to the 2-bedroom unit idea.

“Almost all committee members believed that Core must make available 10% of the beds in its project to qualified students at a 40% discount, provided they remain in 2/2+2 units,” he said. “Any student who applies for a bed in the development with the lower-cost housing program will have the most certainty for what rent they will be expected to pay the following year.”

A student receiving financial assistance would be able to get a letter from the financial aid office verifying their arrangement. That student could then submit the information to Core to receive a discounted bed at Oliv Madison.

Cap Times reporter Ali Garfield contributed to this report.

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