— What’s fresh and contemporary isn’t always the best option,
as some developers have found out through proposals submitted to the
became even more apparent at the commission’s Dec. 14 meeting when
Milwaukee-based Ogden & Company, Inc., sought a conceptual
review of its renderings and plans to construct a 122-unit, $16.3M
apartment complex between St. Paul Avenue and the Fox River, north
of downtown and across the street from Waukesha Fire Station No. 1,
130 W. St. Paul Ave.
six members of the commission and some readers of The Freeman on the
Sound Off page shared virtually the same opinion of the initial
renderings: They don’t mesh well with downtown Waukesha. However,
gauging opinion was the main reason Ogden looked to hear from the
commission early on in the process, so it can alter its plans if
needed. That process makes things easier for all parties involved,
Waukesha Community Development Director Jennifer Andrews said.
developer had a design concept and we thought it would be useful to
get some feedback from the Plan Commission very early in the process
before the design was finalized,” Andrews said. “That early
conversation is helpful to the developer to determine what the Plan
Commission is specifically looking for from a development. To have
that conversation, there needs to be a starting point with the
design and that is what we had at the last Plan Commission
proposed materials used in Ogden’s conceptual design included a
type of steel that gives a very rustic feel to the building. The
design of the two buildings
asymmetric, unique architecture not typically found in the downtown
area. Some commissioners were hesitant about the design because it
didn’t take full advantage of the nearby Fox River.
a matter of thinking ahead and planning for the future, and not just
today, Plan Commission member and architect R.G. Keller said.
about the longevity of the materials,” he said. “Everyone may
think it looks cool today, but in five years how will they look? And
that’s a liability for a developer. Sometimes they’re more
interested in how cool it will look and not how it will perform.”
in with the city’s architecture is also something Keller
recommends developers consider before finalizing a proposal.
is trying to do the latest and greatest one-upmanship,” Keller
said. “All you have to do is drive down to the old part of
Waukesha and you will see (buildings) all sort of have the same
character and they were done in a 10- to 15-year period.
like to see something that preserves the environment better; it
doesn’t have to look like it’s something from the 1920s, but it
has to have a little more character.”
said the city and commission aren’t reluctant to have drastically
different designs from the architecture that currently sits in
design should stand on its own and be representative of its time in
history,” Andrews said. “That does not mean that different
architectural styles can’t compliment each other, and that is
really what the commission and the staff is looking for.”
a vacancy rate of 5 percent or less in the city, Andrews added that
the city has never seen a greater number of residential proposals in
year alone, the Plan Commission has made approvals for an abundance
of new housing in the downtown area. Thirty-two new apartment units
were approved earlier this year as part of a plan to repurpose the
historic courthouse property on the corner of East Main Street and
East Avenue. Also, the commission approved 64 additional residential
units on Main Street, west of Barstow, with many neighboring
municipalities having the same growth and development.
of the main reasons developers are flocking to the city is the
desire for young professionals to move to the area.
downtown offers many amenities and activities that are desirable for
people,” Andrews said. “There is also a desire to live in an
urban, walkable environment. The residential proposals that are
coming forward are a response to market demand.
Waukesha is an exciting and unique place; people are responding by
moving into downtown and being an active participant in the culture
and activities downtown. Living downtown is a lifestyle choice.”