Large rooftop sign too much for Mequon planners
Rest of Cafe Hollander plan approved

By Gary Achterberg - News Graphic Staff

Jan. 20, 2015

 Developers of Cafe Hollander proposed placing a large lit sign atop the building in
Mequon’s Town Center.

Submitted drawing

MEQUON — A proposal to put a large lit sign atop the Cafe Hollander being built in Mequon’s Town Center got a less-than-enthusiastic reception from the city’s planning commission on Jan. 12.

The sign was discussed as part of the entire package of signs for the four-building development at the corner of Mequon and Cedarburg roads. Other than some minor changes to signs that will be allowed on the second floor of one building, the rest of the proposal got unanimous approval.

Blair Williams, founder of Whitefish Bay-based WiRED Properties and the developer of the Town Center project, said that the sign was a preliminary design, fit with the image of the restaurant group and also would be appropriate with the feel of the Town Center. He said it would not set a precedent for developments elsewhere in Mequon.

However, he said he would return to the planning commission with a revised proposal for the sign. The planning commission made clear that – even though the sign was rejected on a 7-2 vote – he was welcome to return with another idea.

“We want to keep a residential feel,” said David Fuchs, a commission member who offered the successful amendment to remove the sign. “This is Mequon, not Brookfield. I think the roof sign does not fit Mequon.”

Commissioner LeRoy Bessler agreed.

“I think the roof sign is wholly inappropriate,” he said. “If it’s a mixed-use development, why should there be a big promotion for one use? This is becoming the Cafe Hollander intersection.”

Robert Strzelczyk, a common council member who sits on the planning commission, said he did not have a problem with the sign, although he said he would like to see details about exactly how big it would be. He said the Town Center area should have “a different level of signage and a different level of visibility.”

He said the sign had a “retro” feel to it. “It’s kind of cool, old-school,” he said. “It gives a uniqueness to the corner.”

Mayor Dan Abendroth added that the Town Center is a new type of development for the city, intended to create some vibrancy. Abendroth and John Mason were the two members to vote against removing the proposed sign from the rest of the sign package.

Cafe Hollander is part of the Lowlands Group, which has other restaurants around the Milwaukee area, including locations on Downer Avenue on Milwaukee’s East Side, in Bay View and in Wauwatosa.

Gary Achterberg can be reached at .