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 — Oconomowoc
citizens have formed a grass roots campaign
that opposes a Milwaukee- area developer’s
plans to tear down a well-known home on a
historic property in favor of a 12-unit
The Isthmus Historic
Preservation Society seeks to prevent the
home located at 517 N. Lake Road from being
demolished, the group’s executive director,
David Cullinane, told The Freeman on Monday.
Cullinane said the society
distributed more than 1,000 flyers spreading
its message over the past weekend and plans
to hold a “peaceful protest” at the next
meeting of the Oconomowoc Architectural
Commission, slated to take place Oct. 11 at
5:30 p.m. in the second floor of City Hall,
174 E. Wisconsin Ave.
Renner Architects wants to
raze the older home, which the company
recently purchased, and combine that lot
with the vacant property it also owns at 525
N. Lake Road to create one parcel that would
hold a 12unit condominium development and a
three-bedroom, single-family residence.
Both of these parcels are
within Oconomowoc’s Isthmus District.
“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 original project summary and
narrative Renner Architects submitted to the
City documents show the
3,752-square-foot home home was built in
According to the “Quester’s
Guide to Historical Oconomowoc,” one of
Oconomowoc’s famed citizens, John Rockwell,
owned a home on that property. However,
there is no indication whether any part of
Rockwell’s home is in the current home.
Cullinane called Peter Renner
of Renner Architects a “rogue developer” for
wanting to build the condominium development
Cullinane said Renner
demonstrates an “absoluete lack of
willingness to respect and protect
Oconomowoc’s architectural history and
“In addition we’re strongly
expressing our voices as citizens to the
disapproval of not only the architectural
components but also the presence of a
condominium complex which violates the
amendments that were set for the historical
Though most of the structures
have a well-aged look, a few condominiums in
the district have boasted a more modern
design. However, those types of new wave
structures aren’t permissible anymore.
Under the Isthmus Design
Standards of the city’s ordinances, which
were created more than 20 years ago, 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.
application for the proposed development was
brought to the Architectural Commission
during its Sept. 13 meeting. It was during
this well-attended meeting that the
commission determined the plans didn’t meet
the design standards, and Renner Architects
would have to come back with a revised plan
for the project to be considered further.
Oconomowoc Mayor Dave Nold
supports the group’s desire to back their
“That’s all fine,” Nold said.
“They’re a very passionate group and they
have specific things they want.”
Oconomowoc Alderman Lou
Kowieski said it’s within The Isthmus
Historic Preservation Society’s rights to
voice its opinion, but he said Renner also
has the right to make the changes necessary
to make the proposed project work.
Kowieski said the city is
happy to see Renner’s interest in creating a
development in Oconomowoc, but he added that
building the right development in the right
area is critical.
“If he can’t meet those
requirements for that district perhaps he
could examine another location that would be
suitable,” Kowieski said.
The preliminary agenda for
the Oct. 11 meeting won’t be available until
A call placed to Renner
Architects Monday evening was not returned.