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Dane County, Gorman & Company, and Dryhootch’s Largest Veterans Family Housing and Services Development in Nation Moves One Step Closer to Breaking Ground

September 19, 2019
Ariana Vruwink
County Executive

Today, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced that the county owned Messner property, set to be developed into the largest housing and service development for veterans and their families in the nation, is one step closer to breaking ground. A resolution approving the land lease for the site to Gorman and Company, along with the purchase and lease back of a portion of the building to deliver funding under the county’s affordable housing development fund, will be introduced at tonight’s County Board meeting. The project is unique in its partnership with Dryhootch, a Madison based non-profit that works to help veterans reconnect to their community.  There will be services available onsite for veterans from Dryhootch and other agencies.

“We are happy to have the Valor on Washington development take this step forward so we can provide more affordable housing and support to veterans and their families,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “Veterans and their families have given so much to our country, and we cannot wait to see this project reach completion so more veterans can access the environment and services they need.”

The project will be a mix of affordable and market-rate units for families. There will be a preference on veterans for all 59 units. The six-story building will include (29) two-bedroom, (28) three-bedroom, and (2) four-bedroom units. There will be 9 market rate units and 50 affordable units, including (8) project-based voucher units whereby tenants pay 30% of their income on rent and (42) units with varying area median income (AMI) percentages. Supportive services for these units will be provided by Lutheran Social Services, who will also have an ownership interest in the housing component.

Dryhootch is currently based in an 1800 square foot space on University Avenue. This new space in the first floor of Valor on Washington will increase their programing space fivefold. The new programing space will include a coffee shop open to the public, workout facilities, group areas for writing, art and support groups, a mechanic shop, training spaces, and video game areas—which have shown to be effective at helping younger veterans. The development will also include structure parking for residents (about 73 stalls) and 12 surface parking stalls for visitors, staff, and Dryhootch.

Dane County sought proposals for development of the property in 2017 and ultimately awarded the proposal to Gorman and Company and Dryhootch for the Valor on Washington project. Gorman’s proposal was awarded tax credit financing in the spring of 2019. The project has also been awarded funding through the affordable housing development funds of both the City of Madison and Dane County.

Demolition of the property is expected to take place later this fall, with construction anticipated to begin in early 2020. The project has received all necessary zoning approvals and is in the process of acquiring building permits.

Dryhootch is a place where veterans can gather informally in a coffee house; a safe, comfortable, drug-and-alcohol-free environment. In order to offer the social healing space that is so important to recovery, Dryhootch has a supportive environment in the form of a coffee shop. Veterans (and members of their family) can come enjoy a cup of coffee, some music, art, and the camaraderie of others. They learn of the programs available to them – which can aid in their transition home – while enjoying the support of those who have already navigated the same path home. It eases them into the programs or services they need, without the stigma of a “disorder.”

Gorman & Company, Inc. specializes in revitalizing communities through innovative housing partnerships. As a trusted partner and respected industry leader since 1984, Gorman creates meaningful workforce housing projects that match community needs.  Gorman also offers expertise in downtown revitalization, the preservation of affordable housing, and the adaptive reuse of significant historic buildings. Gorman is consistently ranked as one of the top affordable housing developers in the county by peer organizations. Gorman & Company has offices in Denver, CO; Milwaukee, WI; Chicago, IL; Phoenix, AZ; and Miami, FL. Learn more at

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