West Bend officials vote to vacate areas near former brewery after request from developer

By RALPH CHAPOCO - Daily News Staff

Jan. 5, 2018

West Bend officials are one step closer to jettisoning portions of the right of way in the northeastern part of the city, clearing one hurdle to allow future development at the location.

Members of the Plan Commission voted to approve a measure during Wednesday’s meeting, recommending that council members vacate Franklin Street and a portion of North Main Street near West Washington Street in reaction to a request from a developer.

“Staff has evaluated the request for the vacation of these two areas and has concluded that Franklin Street can appropriately be vacated since it doesn’t provide any additional public purposes besides providing access to the northern lot, and also the lot directly to the south,” Business and Development Planner James Reinke said.

They also concluded that part of North Main Street near the former brewery, which serves as a parking lot, can also be vacated by the property.

“Staff feels a portion of that right of way would be better suited for redevelopment with the properties to the east,” Reinke said.

The measure to vacate the lots was introduced during the Dec. 18 Common Council meeting when officials voted to refer the matter to Plan Commission. According to the accompanying memo Reinke sent to council members, the proposal would foster the development of land to the north and south.

Several development proposals surrounding the former brewery have been discussed at Plan Commission and Common Council. At the same Dec. 18 meeting, members approved to modify how the two-acre site is zoned, from a general warehouse and business district to one that is mixed use. The area would maintain its designation as a floodway.

The rezoning proposal was brought before Plan Commission members during the December meeting and members agreed with the proposition.

Plan Commission members also spoke with the developer, Robert Bach, during the November meeting, providing their input regarding the development project.

Bach and his colleagues plan to renovate the location to accommodate a multi-family housing complex that will have 99 units consisting of one, two and three bedroom-style apartments. The facility will feature some common areas such as a community room, fitness center and storage units.

It was at that meeting when Bach made his request that city officials vacate portions of the location.

“We don’t have anything picked out as far as what would go there,” Bach said during the November meeting. “It is a prominent location, but it is not a place you would have a Walgreens.”

With the passage, the next step is a public hearing at a future Common Council meeting to gauge the public’s reaction to the proposal.