Council doesn’t buy developer’s second round
Brewery site apartments dead in water, despite proposed senior housing component

By Sarah Pryor - Freeman Staff

March 4, 2015

 On Tuesday night, for the second time in two weeks, the Common Council voted against rezoning the former Fox Head Brewery site to permit development of an apartment complex — despite the would-be developer’s offer to change 87 of 202 units to apartments for seniors only. 
Submitted rendering

WAUKESHA — A developer’s last-minute shot at a luxury apartment development on the former Fox Head Brewery site fell flat again Tuesday night as the Common Council voted down a motion to reconsider rezoning the site.

At its last meeting the council voted 8-7 against rezoning the former brewery site at at 211 and 223 Maple Avenue, effectively killing plans for developer Terrence Wall’s 202-unit apartment complex on the triangular site bordered by railroad tracks on two sides.

Tuesday, Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings asked the council to reconsider the rezoning item after Wall proposed changing 87 of the units to market-rate apartments restricted to people 55 and older. Mayor Shawn Reilly said reconsiderations are allowed, but they must be done by the next meeting and they must be brought forward by someone who was on the failing side.

Cummings said Alderman Roger Patton, who himself lives in a senior living facility at Avalon Square, asked her to take a look at Wall’s revised plan. She said the addition of senior housing was the piece needed to make it a good project for the space.

Alderman Steve Johnson said rezoning the area would help move forward the redevelopment of an area that hasn’t changed in 50 years.

Since the project’s inception, neighbors have expressed concerns about prospective traffic problems and questioned whether the development was appropriate for that neighborhood. Community Development Director Jennifer Andrews has said a single-family development wouldn’t work there because of soil contamination and there’s not a good truck route for a manufacturing facility. Alderman Eric Payne said commercial development wouldn’t work on the site, since there are lots of vacant commercial properties in the area, even in locations with much more visibility.

Alderman Vance Skinner said “never say never,” and Alderman Aaron Perry said city officials shouldn’t be passively waiting for developers to come in and propose projects for sites like the Fox Head — they should be proactively seeking ideas.

City Attorney Brian Running pointed out the council was only discussing a rezoning, not the apartment project as a whole, but Perry said the rezoning was directly attached to the project.

“If we approve this, what on earth are we going to say no to?” Perry said, adding that he believed a commercial development would work on the site one day. “Apartments are fine in the appropriate areas with the appropriate developers and this isn’t one of them.”

Ultimately, the Common Council voted 7-6 against Cummings’ motion to reconsider the rezoning, effectively rendering that specific development dead in the water — or the beer, as the case may be.

How they voted

MOTION (Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings):

To reconsider rezoning 211 and 223 Maple Avenue from M-2 (manufacturing) and B-3 (business) to B-3 PUD (Planned Unit Development — provides more flexibility and allows city to provide additional requirements)

Cummings, Alds. Andy Reiland, Roger Patton, Eric Payne, Steve Johnson, Chris Hernandez

Alds. Joe Pieper, Vance Skinner, Aaron Perry, Joan Francoeur, Peter Bartels, Daniel Manion, Cory Payne

>>EARLIER: Fox Head developer hopes proposal gets better with age

>>EARLIER: Brewery site apartment plan gets skunked

>>EARLIER: Commission approves scaled-down apartments on brewery site

>>EARLIER: Decision stalled for apartments on former brewery site