Planned downtown studio requires height exception

Port commission, board both recommend building be allowed to exceed 35 feet
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

The Port Washington Common Council will be asked next month to approve another exception to the 35-foot height limit in downtown.

But in this case, the building at 231 N. Franklin St., which houses Studio 231, already exceeds the height limit. 

Building owner Lisa Poole wants to construct a rooftop addition to the building that will be shorter than the existing structure’s 48 feet — a measurement that is taken from the top of the turret.

The addition, which will house a studio and bathroom that will augment the second-floor apartment, will be set back about 15-1/2 feet from Franklin Street to minimize its appearance, architect Rory Palubiski of Fein Design told the Plan Commission Sept. 20.

“From the street, you can hardly see it,” Palubiski said. “It’s not going to be ‘boom in your face.’ 

“We definitely don’t want to compete with that iconic turret. We want to maintain the existing facade.”

The existing parapet and pillars on the north facade will not be removed, he added. 

Palubiski said he wants to preserve the view coming down St. Mary’s Hill, and by setting the addition back from Franklin Street, that can be done.

“This view, I feel, is iconic. I think it will look great when you’re coming down the hill,” he said.

The addition will be about 13-1/2 feet above the existing roof, Palubiski said, but about eight feet below the top of the turret. It will also be lower than the nearby Boerner Mercantile Building, he said.

The brick for the addition will not match the existing Cream City brick, but will likely be a stucco-like material that will look similar, Palubiski said.

“I can’t find Cream City brick,” he said. 

The plan was recommended for approval by the Design Review Board, which noted that the addition did not increase the height of the building and would not alter the overall scale of the structure.

Plan Commission members agreed, recommending the height exception be approved by the Common Council.

“I think it fits with the building, it fits with the architecture,” Ald. Mike Ehrlich, an architect and commission member, said. “It’s not obnoxious or intrusive.”

Commission member Brenda Fritsch, who is also an architect, agreed.

“Respecting that tower is key, and I think you’ve done that,” she said.

Mayor Marty Becker, chairman of the commission, concurred, saying the addition doesn’t detract from the building, which was constructed in 1891.

“I really like it a lot. It just fits in,” he said.

In the downtown district, buildings may be 35 feet by right but owners may petition the city for a special exception for taller structures. Many downtown buildings exceed 35 feet.

The Common Council will consider the special exception when it meets on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

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