Port panel members praise variety of housing types, public access to lakefront in plan for 236-unit subdivision
The Port Washington Plan Commission last week weighed in on a proposed bluff development planned for property currently owned by the city — and the comments were largely positive.
“I like where this is going,” Ald. Dan Becker, a member of the commission, said. “I think there’s more work to be done, but I like the way things are progressing.”
The city has agreed to negotiate the sale of 44 acres of city-owned south bluff land to Black Cap Halcyon, a Milwaukee based real estate investment firm, that has proposed building 236 housing units on the land.
Those housing units include 152 apartments, 60 condominium townhouses and 24 cottages.
The firm has also proposed 21,600 square feet of commercial space be part of the development.
Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, told the commission that Black Cap Halcyon has been receptive to city concerns, making changes to alleviate many of these issues.
Among those changes was decreasing the amount of commercial space and moving an apartment building from the south end of the development to the north side — helping ease the natural transition from the heart of the city to the countryside.
“We thought this was a well-detailed plan,” Tetzlaff said.
Commission member Amanda Williams noted that the city’s original concept for the bluff land was all single-family housing, but this plan incorporates a variety of housing types.
“This development seems smarter, more sustainable,” Williams said. “This makes a lot of sense in the long term to me.”
City Administrator Mark Grams said the target population are couples in which one partner works in the Milwaukee area and the other in the Sheboygan area.
And while some people have expressed concern that any commercial development on the property could take away from downtown, Williams said that’s not her concern.
The bluff area is no different from any of the city’s other commercial areas outside of downtown, she said.
“This could be seen as another corridor leading to downtown,” Williams said.
The firm envisions the commercial development being such things as medical facilities, fitness center and small offices, Tetzlaff said.
Black Cap Halcyon would develop Prairie’s Edge in three phases, he said, beginning in 2018 and completing the project by 2022.
It would be market driven, Tetzlaff said, with no spec buildings.
“It could be important to keep them to the timeline,” commission member Bud Sova said.
The development will include a significant amount of public land along the bluff, and a staircase to the beach, Tetzlaff said.
“It would be a great walking destination,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven, a member of the commission, said.
Commission member Ron Voigt agrees, saying, “The walkability would be awesome. This community has an asset called Lake Michigan, and with this plan we’re embracing it.”
Becker said the entire development offers the city an attractive neighborhood.
“I like the whole mix. You’re addressing needs in different segments and different markets,” he said. “I like that there’s a segment that’s commercial, but I like that it’s peeled back and that it will not take away from our downtown.”
The beach stairs are “ambitious,” he said, “But I hope they can pull it off.”
Grams said Black Cap Halcyon could bring a preliminary concept plan to the commission for consideration in the next three to four months.