Commission approves scaled-down apartments on brewery site
Developer: ‘This will be a community asset’

By Sarah Pryor - Freeman Staff

Jan. 15, 2015

WAUKESHA - After hearing neighbors’ and Common Council members’ concerns, a developer scaled down a luxury apartment complex planned for Maple Avenue, and the Plan Commission gave the new proposal a thumbs-up Wednesday night.

Developer Terrence Wall initially proposed a four-and-five-story development for the triangular-shaped site of the former Fox Head Brewery site at 221 Maple Ave., which is bordered by two railroad tracks. Neighbors expressed concerns about traffic and the building’s ability to mesh with nearby residential development, which resulted in the Common Council putting the entire plan on hold last week.

On Wednesday, Wall came back with a plan that reduced the buildings to three and four stories and the units from 245 to 202. Wall’s new plan also reduces the proposed first-floor commercial space from half the building to just 23 percent.

“The Common Council sent us a message to look at a smaller, less dense project,” Wall said.

In similar developments he’s headed up, half the residents have incomes of $60,000 per year or higher. “These are very expensive and very high-end residential units,” he said of the apartments, which will be dubbed Fox Head Residences.

Rent is proposed to start at $750 to $850 for a modified studio and increase from there.

City Planner Jennifer Andrews explained that single-family residential lots would be extremely complicated and expensive on the former manufacturing site - up to $300,000 just to develop one lot.

She said the proposal fits into the Central City Master Plan and the higher density is appropriate for part of the city that needs people to visit its shops and restaurants.

“City staff feels the density is more appropriate for the central city,” Andrews said, adding a project like this likely wouldn’t be approved for the outskirts of town.

Commissioner Joan Francoeur was curious: why this site?

“We are very good at taking a challenge ... and really making it a diamond in the community,” Wall said. “Anyone can go develop apartments in the suburbs in the periphery. This will be a real community asset - viewed as a landmark a few years from now.”

The commission unanimously approved the revised site plan and architectural review for the site.