Board praises apartment plan for St. Mary’s School

Members like Ansay’s concept of a historic district that would include church

ST. MARY’S CATHOLIC SCHOOL and the parish center to the south would be converted to apartments under a plan by Ansay Development Corp. The plan calls for the buildings to be named to the National Register of Historic Places, ensuring they will be preserved in perpetuity and providing tax credits for the renovations.
Ozaukee Press staff

A plan by Ansay Development to create a national historic district surrounding St. Mary’s Catholic School in Port Washington and then convert the school and parish center into 20 to 35 apartments got the endorsement of the Design Review Board Tuesday.

“I think this is a neat concept,” board member Jeremy Hartline said.

“This is an area just waiting for something like this.”

While having the school, parish center, the former rectory and St. Mary’s Church named to the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district would “restrict a lot of our options on design,” it would also ensure the area retains its character and provide needed tax credits for the renovations, Ian McCain, Ansay’s design/construction manager, told the board.

McCain said Ansay expects to learn this summer whether the historic district designation would be approved by state and federal authorities.

One of the most noticeable things people will see when they enter the area is a new park-like area in the current school parking lot, Craig Huebner, an engineer with Graef who is working on the project, told the board.

That area will have landscaping and a corner gateway plaza with seating and signage.

While Johnson Street will continue to be a one-way road, Huebner said, Ansay has worked with the city and St. John XXIII Parish, which owns the church, school and parish center, to maximize parking by replacing the current parallel parking with angle parking.

“The traffic flow is not going to change at all,” he said.

The 90-plus parking spaces are likely to be a few less than the parish would like, they should be adequate, McCain said, noting they will be vacant much of the time.

A new drop-off and turn-around space in front of the church is also planned.
Huebner noted that Ansay is looking at the potential for about 12 indoor parking spots at the new apartment building.

The alternative, McCain said, would be to build some covered parking stalls on the north and east sides of the school building.

Other planned building and site amenities planned for residents of the building are a rooftop deck overlooking downtown and perhaps a small coffeeshop in the former boiler room, officials said.

The concept plan is expected to be presented to the Plan Commission for review when it meets Thursday, June 20.


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