Sixty-nine-unit building would provide housing for adults with autism
A concept plan for a 69-unit apartment building on Port Washington’s west side that would include units and services for autistic adults met with approval from the city’s Design Review Board Tuesday.
The building, along with a nearby wellness center where services for people with autism would be provided, are proposed for the former Highway LL ramp land.
Cardinal Capital, which is purchasing the northern half of the ramp land from Ozaukee County, has done a number of projects for people with special needs through the years and was approached by the autistic community to develop a project for them, said Tadhg Mc Inerney, who works in planning and architecture for the West Allis firm. The company looked at properties in Cedarburg and Milwaukee before finding the Port Washington land, Mc Inerney said.
“That’s the greatest piece of land I’ve ever seen ... especially for this purpose,” he said.
About 12 of the units are expected to be built for autistic adults, with special soundproofing, cameras and electronics, Mc Inerney said. The rest of the units would be rented to the general public at market rates.
The area to the west of the apartments would be used for walking paths and other outdoor facilities, he said.
Mc Inerney said Cardinal is working with the Milwaukee Center for Independence, which will provide services for the autistic adults, and Concordia University Wisconsin on the project.
Fire Chief Mark Mitchell, a member of the board, said that while he likes the concept, he is troubled by the building’s proximity to Highway LL.
“I’m concerned about the safety of the autistic residents,” Mitchell said. “It’s 35 mph there, and nobody goes 35.”
Board member Jorgen Hansen concurred, saying a buffer zone between the building and Highway LL may be needed.
“They’re still 40 feet from the curb,” City Planner Randy Tetzlaff noted.
Mc Inerney said the company will take a look at that matter before submitting final plans.
The board also weighed in on a revised plan for a senior housing apartment complex proposed by Bielinski Development on Highway 33.
Residents in the Hidden Hills subdivision objected to the original proposal for a three-story, 27-unit building on the land, saying they feared it would loom over their homes, eliminating their privacy and reducing property values.
The new plan calls for a two-story building with 36 units, Tetzlaff said.
“It’s a much larger footprint,” he said. “It gobbles up the site.”
Board members were concerned about that, saying the new plan is too large for the site.
“I think that (original plan) makes better use of the site than the new one,” Hansen said.
“This would be the biggest two-story apartment building we have,” Mitchell noted.
The Plan Commission will weigh in on both apartment plans when it meets at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19.