Triangle project too tall, dense, large for high-profile location

That was the opinion of commission members who reject revised plan for development at 17th Ave. and Washington St.

A REVISED design for the Grafton Triangle, shown here in a rendering by Excel, did not satisfy members of the Grafton Plan Commission, who last week said the development is still too large for the high-profile corner of 17th Avenue and Washington Street.


Ozaukee Press staff

The Grafton Triangle project at the intersection of 17th Avenue and Washington Street in Grafton is dead, at least for now.

The Grafton Plan Commission last week took no action on a revised concept proposal by Three Leaf Partners, but members made it clear that the current plan was not acceptable.

The building just isn’t right for the area, Village President Jim Brunnquell, chairman of the commission, said, adding it’s too tall, dense and large for the location.

“Unfortunately, it still didn’t really meet what we’re looking for as a gateway project, something that sets the tone as you enter the downtown,” Brunnquell said in an interview.

“When you’re coming down Highway V or Highway 60, it’s going to be a building you’re going to see. We want it to be indicative of who we are.”

Three Leaf Partners presented its initial plan to the commission in October, and a standing-room-only crowd and commission members made it clear it wasn’t a concept they would support.

Three Leaf made some significant changes to its plan, and on Jan. 24 Joe Stanton, development manager for the company, presented it to the commission — again before a standing-room-only crowd.

The initial plan called for a four to five story apartment complex with 180 market-rate units as well as 4,500 square feet of commercial space, but the plan presented last week called for a three-story apartment complex with 135 units and about 4,600 square feet of commercial space.

There would have been a mix of studio apartments as well as one, two and three-bedroom units, and there would have been both underground and surface parking.

The old plan would have meant closing Grafton Avenue from 17th Avenue to Sunset Court, but the new concept would have shifted the right of way, narrowing the road but keeping it open.

Audience members, who at the October meeting were vocal in their opposition to the project as too tall, too dense, too congested and incompatible with the neighborhoods around it, did not speak at last week’s meeting.

Most commission members commended the developer for making changes to try and address the concerns expressed in October, but they said significant issues remain.

Trustee Dave Antoine, a commission member, said he is concerned about traffic at the crosswalks in the area, noting they are near schools, while commission member Carl Harms said he favors making some changes to Grafton Avenue but added that he did not like the density of the project.

Commission member Mark Paschke said density is the major concern, adding that the project does not match the character of the area. There’s no zoning district in the village that allows 45 units per acre, he noted.

Commission members Alan Kletti and Scott Uhen agreed that the building isn’t right as a gateway project, with Uhen adding that while he doesn’t mind the height of the structure the architecture needs work.

A mixed-use building is acceptable in that spot, Brunnquell said this week, but the building designed by Three Leaf “reminds you more of a larger city’s downtown.”

“I’m looking for something that sets the tone for what the community is all about,” he added. “We don’t want Highway 60 to turn into Blue Mound Road.

“I think the village and Plan Commission, we definitely would like to see a quality development there. We’re just waiting for the right one.”

Three Leaf could still come forward with another plan for the site, Development Director Jessica Wolff said, adding the company’s representatives have not indicated whether they will do that.



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