Port panel pans revised Harbor Campus plan

New, less expensive proposal for senior housing facility called a ‘huge disappointment’ by committee chairman

    Last year, a plan by Capri Senior Communities for a sweeping renovation and expansion of the Harbor Campus senior living facilities in Port Washington was met with enthusiasm by officials.
    But there was little enthusiasm for a revised plan submitted to the Design Review Board Tuesday.
    “This is a huge disappointment,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven, chairman of the board, said. “What was originally proposed, I thought, was amazing and was going to be a huge improvement for the neighborhood. The existing buildings, and the pavement and parking lot, are tired. I was looking forward to them being refreshed.”
    But the new plan doesn’t improve the existing facilities — at least not on the exterior — in favor of a long driveway and a large, new building southwest of the current Harbor Club, he said.
    “I can’t vote for this,” Vanden Noven said. “It went from investing a lot into the campus into this new construction. I think there must be some attention paid to the existing site other than a new driveway.”
    Board member Jorgen Hansen agreed, saying, “This is a hard one to swallow.”
    The board took no action on the concept plan for the campus, which will be reviewed by the Plan Commission at its 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21, meeting.
    Amy Schoenemann of Tarantino & Co. told the board that Capri had intended to make the sweeping improvements proposed last year, but they proved to be too expensive.
    That plan included construction of a four-story independent-living tower, an additional memory-care unit and single-family housing on the south and east sides of the property as well as changes intended to better meld the former St. Alphonsus Hospital building with the residential neighborhood in which it is situated.
    Those changes included the removal of the boiler building and existing garages along Walters Street, the creation of a grand entrance off Walters Street and some facade alterations, she said.
    Schoenemann said further study revealed the boiler building had to be retained, although an adjacent garage will be razed, and because of that the Walters Street entrance will largely remain unchanged.
    Now, the plan is to create a master entrance near the Harbor Club, she said, extending and enhancing the driveway on the west side of the property to the south and adding landscaping.
    The expanded driveway, which will include a new parking area near the Harbor Club, will lead to a new three-story, 66-unit independent senior living apartment building with underground parking.
    The building, which will be a modified L-shape, will require the city to rezone a portion of the property, Schoenemann said.
    The plans also include an expansion of the existing memory care unit, and several smaller multi-family, independent-living buildings on the southeast side of the property.
    “We’re not quite sure what those will be,” Schoenemann said regarding their size and configuration of these buildings.
    A large stormwater retention pond would also be developed on the southwest side of the site.
    While there would no longer be improvements to the exterior of the existing buildings, Schoenemann noted that the company is spending a significant amount of money making improvements to the interior of the structures.
    “Right now, for us, our costs are better justified on internal renovations,” she said. “We’re investing a great amount, just shy of $1 million, in improving the interior.”
    That doesn’t include a $1 million investment in central air conditioning, said Wayne Wiertzema, senior vice president of development for Capri.
    Hansen questioned the proximity of the new independent-living building to the neighboring houses bordering Holden Street, noting the balconies on the upper floors will overlook the neighbors’ back yards.
    “Typically when you have three-story apartment buildings, there’s a little more room between,” he said.
    Capri officials agreed to see if the building could be moved to the east a little bit, easing that concern.
    But board members continued to struggle with the overall concept, particularly since no improvements will be made to the exterior of the existing buildings.
    “I just think it needs to be enhanced before it goes through,” Hansen, an architect, said. “I’m not convinced this is the best addition to this campus. Would it be possible to see options, to see that other approaches have been tried? “
    Vanden Noven added, “It went from investing a lot into the campus into this new construction. I don’t know if there are simple, inexpensive architectural things that could improve the existing buildings.”
    Wiertzema said that the board was not considering the many improvements being made under the plan.
    “We’re not here looking to make changes to that (existing) building. It’s impractical to think we’re going to change the exterior of that old building,” he said.Daily



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