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Written by STEVE OSTERMANN   
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 20:01

Proposal for 4-story building with 72 apartments, retail space well-received by commission

A concept plan for a four-story building that would house 72 apartment units and 10,000 square feet of retail space in downtown Grafton received a positive reception from the village’s Plan Commission on Tuesday.

Citing the mixed-use project as a major step in the long-awaited redevelopment of a former lumberyard, commission members said the building would be a welcome addition to the community.

“This is the final major development in the downtown project district,” said Village President Jim Brunnquell, the commission chairman. “It’s been 10 years in the making.”

Shaffer Development of Mequon has proposed the building as the first phase of its Lumberyard 1505 project, which calls for the redevelopment of 4.7 acres along the west side of Wisconsin Avenue south of Beech Street.

The 50-foot-high building, which would be the tallest in downtown Grafton, is expected to house 72 market-rate apartments ranging in size from 525 to 1,135 square feet. Included would be 75 underground parking spaces for tenants and 92 surface parking spaces for residents, guests and customers of first-floor businesses.

Among the potential businesses are a restaurant, financial institution, coffee shop and hair salon.

Plans also call for the redesign of the former 11th Avenue right of way into a public space with landscaping, seating and an interactive water feature.

The building would be near the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Beech Street and curve around the John’s Pizzeria property. The retail floor of the structure would be part of a four-story wing facing Wisconsin Avenue, with a three-story, all-residential wing facing Beech Street.

Jessica Wolf, the village’s director of planning and development, said in a report to the commission that the apartments would help the village meet a growing demand for residential space. The apartment tenants, in turn, should bolster the customer base for downtown businesses, she added.

“The project is located on a developed site in the middle of the village and is not expected to impose an undue burden on public infrastructure,” Wolff said.

The project, which received a favorable review from the Architectural Review Board on April 16, requires rezoning as a planned unit development. The commission is scheduled on June 23 to make a rezoning recommendation to the Village Board and consider a site plan for the project.

“We’re extremely excited about this,” said Phil Schultz of Horizon Development Group, which would build and manage the project.

“This is really unique to Ozaukee County. There’s nothing like it in Cedarburg, Mequon, Thiensville or other local communities.”

Commission member Alan Kletti questioned how the firm planned to market the apartments and commercial space and how long it might take to reach full occupancy.

“With the size and scope of this project, are you going to be able to lease it out?” Kletti asked.

Schultz said his firm has built and marketed more than 1,000 residential units in other projects and typically doesn’t begin leasing until construction is within 90 days of being completed. On average, six to eight units per month are leased, he added.

“We’re hoping to be full up on leasing within four to six months,” Schultz said.

Schaffer Development’s most recent project is the Mequon Town Center, a $16 million mixed-use development with 30,000 square feet of retail space and 28 luxury apartments.

Village Administrator Darrell Hofland said the Lumberyard 1505 apartments would complement other nearby residential projects, including the Berkshire, a 66-unit senior housing complex; Heritage of Grafton, a 44-unit condominium building; and Hotel Grafton, which has 20 apartment units. All three have full occupancy, he said.

“The developers (of Lumberyard 1505) are very bullish on Grafton, not only because of the demand for apartments but the positive direction in which the downtown is headed,” Hofland said.

Hofland said the first-phase footprint would take up more than half of the 4.7-acre project space, with as many as three additional phases being considered. The second phase is expected to include another mix of residential and commercial space.

Upon completion, redevelopment of the former lumberyard would add a projected $16.6 million in value to the downtown’s property value.

Pending final approval, construction of the first phase is expected to start in late fall and take nine months to complete, Hofland said.

In February, the village purchased a 2.2-acre parcel as the final piece in the redevelopment of the former lumberyard, an effort overseen by the Community Development Authority.

The CDA subsequently agreed to sell four acres at the site to Shaffer Development.


 

Image information: AN ARTIST’S RENDERING depicts the four-story, mixed-use building proposed for downtown Grafton in a concept plan presented Tuesday to the village’s Plan Commission. Shaffer
Development has proposed the structure — which would house 72 apartments and 10,000 square feet of first-floor retail space — as the first phase of its Lumberyard 1505 project along the west side of Wisconsin Avenue south of Beech Street.            

 
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