Peter Renner of Milwaukee-based Renner Architects wants
to develop a 13-unit condominium project in the 500
block of Oconomowoc’s North Lake Road. Renner hopes to
have an older existing home razed at 517 N. Lake Road.
If that project is approved, he wants to combine 517 and
525 N. Lake Road into a single parcel that would feature
a 12-unit condominium, left, and a three-bedroom home.
OCONOMOWOC — A Milwaukee-area developer believes Oconomowoc’s Isthmus
District deserves a condominium, but
residents living in that area fear the
proposed project clashes with the historic
stretch of North Lake Street.
Peter Renner of Renner
Architects wants to raze an older home owned
by Jon Leverence — located at 517 N. Lake
Road — and combine that lot with the vacant
property at 525 N. Lake Road to create a
parcel that would accommodate a 12-unit
condominium development and a three-bedroom,
single-family residence, according to city
“We believe that there is a
dire need for high quality condominiums in
the heart of Lake Country, mostly to
accommodate people who don’t want to
maintain a high maintenance lake property,”
reads the project summary and narrative
Renner Architects submitted to the city.
When the Waterview
Condominiums project was brought to the
city’s Architectural Commission on Wednesday
evening, a considerable group of residents
and owners of North Lake Street property
came to express their
with the project as it’s currently proposed.
District resident David
Cullinane said he and his neighbors are
mainly concerned with two things: the
location of the condominium and the
appearance of the structures, which he said
presently have the vibe of something built
in Milwaukee’s Third Ward.
“I think there is a
groundswell of anger of (the projects)
destroying Oconomowoc’s architectural
history,” Cullinane said.
An owner of four properties
in the Isthmus District of North Lane Road,
Cullinane said he and many of his neighbors
have invested too much time, energy and
finances into their properties to see
something shake up the area.
Cullinane is also upset with
the contrast between the proposed home and
the proposed condominium complex. He said
the home and complex are so architecturally
different that they clash.
An out-of-place residence is
nothing new in the North Lake District.
While the majority of the structures have
the same historic feel, a few condominiums
boast a much more modern design. However,
those miscast homes aren’t permissible
anymore under a move the city made more than
two decades ago.
Under the Isthmus Design
Standards of the city’s ordinances, the
building scales, design, configuration,
details, exterior material and color of any
development, facade or building change in
that area must reflect practices that were
common between 1870 and 1930.
After reviewing what Renner
Architects’ application proposed, the
Architectural Commission determined the
current plans do meet most zoning
requirements but do not meet the design
standards. Renner Architects, the commission
suggested, would have to make significant
changes to its plans for the project to
Oconomowoc Mayor Dave Nold,
who attended the meeting like many other
city officials, said Friday that he doesn’t
know whether Renner Architects will return
to the city with another plan.
A call placed to Peter Renner
Friday morning seeking information on the
company’s plans was not returned.
Kristi Weber, a planner and
community development specialist with the
Oconomowoc Planning and Zoning Department,
believes the largest hurdle the project
currently faces is the proposed appearance
of the building. She said people living in
the community have come to the department’s
office and said they’re not opposed to the
idea of proposed structures, or even the
size. What they seem to be concerned with,
Weber said, is the architectural character.
Weber said the city would
have no issue with helping the developers to
conform to the standards in place. She said
the city has done as much in the past,
having successfully helped a proposed
residence to meet the standards after it had
initially come up short. However, she added
this is the first multifamily project to be
officially applied for in a while, so this
particular project is unique.
Former Oconomowoc Mayor Floss
Whalen wasn’t surprised to hear that such a
project has met dissenting opinions, adding
that Oconomowoc honors its history quite a
“Anytime you’re going to tear
down a house that someone thinks is
historical, you’re going to run into
opposition,” Whalen said.
In its project summary and
narrative, which was developed a few weeks
before the Wednesday meeting, Renner
Architects said it planned to start the
project as soon as it receives city
approval, which it believed could be as
early as late fall.