Commission approves apartments on former brewery site
Neighbors concerned about development size, amount of multifamily housing

By Sarah Pryor - Freeman Staff

Nov. 13, 2014

On Wednesday night, the Plan Commission gave conceptual approval to a 245-unit apartment complex planned for the former Fox Head Brewery site on Maple Avenue.
Submitted rendering

WAUKESHA -The Plan Commission is OK with the concept of a 245-unit luxury apartment complex on the site of the former Fox Head brewery on Maple Avenue, but there are more details to work out.

Wednesday night, the Plan Commission gave the project conceptual approval at the recommendation of city staff, who will look into concerns about visibility and other safety issues related to the two railroad tracks that border the site.

Developer T. Wall Enterprises is proposing a two-building, five-story development at 211 and 223 Maple Ave. that will consist of a triangular building with four stories along Maple Avenue, five stories along each railroad track and a courtyard and walkways in the center, said Community Development Specialist Jeff Fortin.

Commissioner Joan Francoeur said she was concerned about the number of units, as well as whether it’s possible to have quality development between two railroad tracks.

Katie Piechotta of the Dunbar Oaks Neighborhood Association told the commission that many people in her neighborhood oppose the project, mainly because of the building’s height, number of units and potential increased traffic.

“It’s a historic neighborhood and I think most people’s vision for the neighborhood is to make it appear more traditional with single-family homes,” Piechotta said. “A lot of people in Waukesha share the thought that there’s a disproportionate amount of multifamily houses already in the city.”

However, developer Terrence Wall said he hosted a neighborhood meeting and only eight people showed up, some of whom expressed support for the project. He said others suggested ideas that he’s considering incorporating into the development.

Fortin said the proposal meshes with the city’s Central City Master Plan, which places value on rental units intended for people who are likely to patronize downtown businesses.

Each unit is proposed to be “condo-style” with stainless steel appliances and its own washer, dryer and balcony, comparable to the nearby Kendal Lofts, Fortin said.

He also said city staff thinks the building will improve that portion of Maple Avenue, which is slated for redevelopment, and will act as a buffer between nearby Carroll University and the neighborhood to the west.

Wall said that rents haven’t been finalized yet, but will range from $850 to $950 for a studio, $975 to $1,100 for one-bedroom, $1,100 to $1,350 for two-bedroom and up to $1,500 for a two-bedroom “special unit” with extra features like additional windows or a loft.

The target demographic is wealthy senior citizens, empty nesters and young professionals, Fortin said.

The commission voted 6-1 to change the site’s land use plan from industrial to commercial, with Mayor Shawn Reilly saying it won’t work any longer as an industrial site since semitrucks can’t easily traverse Maple Avenue. It also voted 5-2 in favor of rezoning the property from manufacturing to business. The Common Council will host a public hearing on the land use amendment and proposed rezoning at a future meeting.