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A California development team has decided to convert the former Downtown YMCA building at 401 Wisconsin Ave. into 46 brand-new apartments in a $4.5 million redevelopment.

The project, as reported in the Sept. 9 Journal Times, is fueled entirely by Foxconn Technology Group and the desire to create and/or own housing here, according to the developers from the Los Angeles area, collectively called Mt. Royal Investments.

This development is just one of many in the works following the announcement about a year ago that Foxconn was coming to this area and bringing approximately 13,000 jobs to the state — a number the company has not wavered on.

In Mount Pleasant, vertical construction is underway at the site of the future Foxconn facility.

Unlike notorious projects of the past, such as the Imaginarium and Machinery Row, Foxconn is steadily moving forward. Racine County is already seeing the ripple effects.

Tim Ryan of Tim Ryan Construction, one of the developer partners, said the current plan for the YMCA site with Milwaukee-based Continuum Architects + Planners is to build 46 units, a combination of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. That might include four townhouses opening directly onto the parking lot.

One of the building’s quirky attributes is a four-lane bowling alley, with electric pin-setters, in the basement. Mt. Royal will definitely keep that as an amenity for future tenants, Ryan said.

It will take several months to nail down the plans and get permits, he said: Before actual construction can start, the building’s ample amount of asbestos will have to be dealt with. The project might be completed sometime late next year.

“Maybe in 2019 we can have some tenants coming in. That’s the goal,” Ryan said.

Monthly rents may range from about $800 to as much as $1,300 for the largest apartments, Ryan said.

“We desperately need market-rate housing,” Kelly Kruse, executive director of Downtown Racine Corp., has told The Journal Times. “This is a crucial step in making Downtown more functional and vibrant. I am thrilled they chose that location to redevelop.”

More people living Downtown means businesses will do better and more businesses will end up Downtown. It could even mean Racine could get a Downtown supermarket.

Area residents have talked repeatedly about the need for a supermarket in the Downtown area, which is currently in what known as a food desert because people have to travel a considerable distance to buy groceries. But you need people and demand for those amenities to materialize.

With the help of Foxconn, it looks like the Downtown area is moving in the right direction.

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