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Marina-area apartment plan clears first hurdle PDF Print E-mail
Daily News
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 21 June 2017 20:08

Panel members say development will bring residents to waterfront but express some building height concerns

    A conceptual plan for Ansay Development’s proposed Pier Street Apartments on the former Victor’s restaurant site in Port Washington’s marina district was approved last week by the Plan Commission.
    The proposed apartments would blend with the adjoining townhouses planned by architect Stephen Perry Smith, Mayor Tom Mlada said, and would provide a variety of housing near the city’s waterfront.
    “I can see there being an awful lot of interest ... the outdoor living, the views,” he said. “All of this really encourages a completely different sense of energy (in the area).
    “As a community, we have to be excited about what this means for an area that hasn’t had a lot of life.”
    That comment was echoed by commission member Amanda Williams, an architect.
    “I am really excited about seeing more life in this area,” she said.
    Ansay’s plan calls for eight townhouse-style apartments to be built on the property, each with a two-car garage and a rooftop deck.
    The three-story units, which would be housed in two structures that would face Washington and Pier streets with garage access off Harborview Lane, are significantly different from Ansay’s original proposal for the site.
    “This is a vastly different project” than one the firm originally proposed last year, Ian McCain of Ansay Development told the commission. “It’s one we feel is more appropriate to the site.”
    Last year, the firm proposed using both the Victor’s property and the adjoining city-owned car-trailer parking lot for a 44-unit apartment building. The firm later called for 14 row houses to be built there, with the apartments to be constructed a block to the north.
    The city later agreed to sell the car-trailer lot to Smith, sending Ansay back to the drawing board.
    McCain said the current proposal is for  buildings that are similar in mass and height to Smith’s townhouses.
    But, he said, the staircases to the rooftop decks would cause the buildings to exceed the city’s 35-foot height limit by about 6-1/2 feet.
    “We believe that is a critical component,” McCain said. “We are approximating what you’re asking for.”
    To minimize the impact, McCain said, these access points are set back from the edge of the building.
    Commission member Brenda Fritsch, an architect, said this may be an acceptable trade-off.
    “An outdoor area is really nice to have,” she said. “It makes the property more desirable. We have to be sensitive to that.”
    But Williams said she does not want to see the project exceed the height limit.
    “I’m sensitive, especially in this part of the marina district, to stick to the height limit,” she said.
    The city is working to create the look of a quaint fishing village, Williams said, and “anything that steps outside of that is detrimental.”
    Two different proposals for the building were presented by McCain, one with a sloping roof and the other with a flat roof.
    Commission members were unanimous in their opinion the flat-roof building was the preferred one.
    Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven, a commission member, asked if Ansay had considered installing a green roof on those portions of the roof not used for the deck.
    McCain said the firm is considering that, noting it could offer tenants a place to garden.
    McCain also asked what the future of Harborview Lane is, noting the city had approved a plan years ago that would close the street — which is the access to the apartment parking lot — and create a pedestrian walkway there.
    “We think circulation is critical to this part of the neighborhood,” he said.
    There are ways to accommodate increased pedestrian traffic on the road, McCain said, including a managed alley system, angle parking and an enhanced pedestrian walkway and a green alley plan.
    Williams said times have changed since the plan to close Harborview Lane was approved by the city.
    “None of these (marina district) developments were happening when we did that,” she said. “It made sense at the time.”
    Now, with increased development in the area, it may make more sense to rethink that plan, Williams said.
    The city’s Board of Public Works and Traffic Safety Committee will look at the Harborview Lane issue and make a recommendation to the Common Council, City Administrator Mark Grams said.