Disputed Milwaukee apartment building approved by zoning board
A four-story, 55-unit apartment building that inspired a lawsuit from disgruntled neighbors is recommended for approval by a Common Council committee.
The Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee voted 5-0 on Tuesday to approve a zoning change for the project. It is to be built at 2604-2644 N. Hackett Ave., just east of the Downer Avenue business district.
This site now includes vacant land as well as St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. This empty site to the north of the church hall is where the apartments would be built.
The zoning committee’s recommendation is to be considered by council at its September 20 meeting. It follows a unanimous recommendation from the Planning Commission.
Local residents oppose the project, saying it would be too big for the site, increase traffic congestion and make it harder to find street parking.
It’s a “gargantuan” project using a zoning change that will “destroy the neighborhood,” the elder Ald said. Larraine McNamara-McGraw.
McNamara-McGraw and four other opponents, in a lawsuit they later dropped, said the city should conduct a study of the building’s impact on traffic, safety and parking before making a decision on the rezoning of the site.
After:Historic designation on the east side of Milwaukee at the proposed apartment site creates a potential impediment to development at Summit and North.
After:A court ruling that paved the way for the razing of Milwaukee’s historic Columbia Hospital is under appeal. This could delay the demolition.
The city’s Department of Public Works reviewed these concerns and concluded that such a study was unnecessary, in part because a large, underutilized parking structure is located half a block from the site of development.
The development itself would have 69 underground parking spaces – more than required by city code.
Plan Commission approval was granted on the condition that the developers provide a traffic study prior to the zoning committee hearing.
The findings of this study were consistent with findings by the Department of Public Works that the development would have little impact on traffic, said DPW civil engineer Dawn Schmidt.
Developers Michael DeMichele and Three Leaf Development LLC, led by Milwaukee Bucks goaltender Pat Connaughton, hope the building will be completed by March 2024.
Monthly rents would be around $2.10 per square foot. This translates to rents starting at around $1,050 for a studio.
Its height would be slightly lower than that of Church In The City, which is just north of the proposed development site at 2648 N. Hackett Ave.
The proposed building respects the height limit of the current zoning and is consistent with the city’s overall plan for the northeast side, said Sam Leichtling, director of urban planning.
The developers buy the land from St. Mark’s, which would use the proceeds from the sale to help fund a new church hall.
Proponents, including State Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, the lone candidate in the November ballot for the open Alderman’s Ward on the East Side, say the apartments would blend in well with the neighborhood and generate property tax revenue as well as more customers for Downer Avenue businesses.
Opponents also said developers and the church should have consulted nearby residents when they began working on their project plans.
Along with Plan Commission and Zoning Committee hearings, the Historic Preservation Commission on July 11 approved the location, scale, shape and materials of the building.
The Preservation Commission held a hearing on the development because the site is in the historic Downer Avenue commercial district.
Additionally, the developers held a meeting in June with neighborhood residents about the project, which was made public on June 15.