Plans for turning a portion of the Waukesha County Museum
and adjacent buildings into an upscale apartment development
have been revised to keep a 1938 connector building, which
the developer initially planned to demolish and replace with
a new, taller building.
Rendering courtesy of AG Architecture
WAUKESHA - Revised plans that would turn
a portion of the Waukesha County Museum into high-end
apartments have netted preliminary approval from a
second city commission.
The Waukesha Plan Commission voted 5-1 Wednesday
night to approve preliminary plans for the site, subject to further
evaluation of portions of the project that include the museum’s main
entrance and its parking spaces.
Alderman Peter Bartels issued the lone vote against
The plan initially sought to raze two buildings on
the site to allow for additional parking, but the newly revised
plans pulled the demolition of a 1938 connector building, which will
instead be incorporated into the project’s designs.
“We’re pretty excited about the new design,” project
developer Alan Huelsman said. “By retaining that building we are
able to downsize the project a little bit and at the same time
downsize the costs and the project still works.”
The proposed plans to turn part of the Waukesha County
Museum and adjacent buildings into an upscale apartment
development has been revised to retain the 1938 connector
building and to reduce the size of the building by one
Rendering courtesy of AG Architecture
As part of the proposal, the Waukesha
County Museum would sell the property at 101 W. Main St.
to Huelsman’s development company, Historic Prairieview
The museum would then consolidate into the first two
floors of the original Waukesha County Courthouse, and the third
floor will be renovated into a banquet and wedding facility
featuring a fully restored 1893 courtroom.
Under the revised proposal, one floor of the project
has been eliminated, resulting in a four-level building. The total
number of apartment units has also been reduced to 32.
While excited about the direction of the project,
commissioners expressed concerns with the main entry of the historic
courthouse - some felt it needed a canopy - and the ridgeline top
floor of the building, which could see additional glass added to it.
Some commissioners also wanted more details about
the site’s parking plan. As it currently stands, the finished
museum/apartment structure would have one parking spot per bedroom,
plus some guest parking areas.
Huelsman said he has also spoken with The Freeman
about leasing a portion of its adjacent lot for additional parking.
The new plans received preliminary approval from the
Landmarks Commission last week. After Wednesday’s decision, the
proposal will now move to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
Huelsman said he intends to request some TIF funding
for the project as well - which would require approval from the
review board, the Redevelopment Authority, the Plan Commission and
the Common Council.
“I think its a big improvement over what was
presented over the summer,” Commissioner Paul Day said, referring to
the project’s original proposal.
Also during Wednesday’s meeting, the commission voted
unanimously to recommend the annexation of a 12.94 acre parcel of
land known as the Lathers Property.
The city formally purchased the land from the Town
of Waukesha for $500,000 back in 2012, but officials are now hoping
to annex the site in order to drill wells there should the city’s
Great Lakes diversion application be delayed or denied.
Under the city’s “Plan B” scenario, shallow wells
would be constructed on the land for pumping out additional water to
meet a federally-imposed deadline to reach mandated radium
compliance levels by June 2018.
Earlier this week, the Wisconsin Department of
Natural Resources announced it will be forwarding the city’s
proposal to a pair of regional bodies for review within the next 30
to 60 days.
The Common Council must still approve the land