Downtown Cedarburg TID project spurs discussion
Use needs vs. parking debated

By Laurie Arendt

Feb. 7, 2019

 A drawing submitted to the Cedarburg Plan Commission offers an example of a possible design for development at the corner of Washington Avenue and Mill Street, though there is no formal proposal for this building.
Submitted rendering

CEDARBURG — The process of creating a new development is one with many steps and many discussions. The latest revisions to Greg Zimmerschied’s planned project on the corner of Mill Street and Washington Avenue in Cedarburg’s tax incremental financing district No. 3 was a prime example of this at Monday’s Plan Commission meeting.

Zimmerschied recused himself from the process due to being a member of the Plan Commission and was represented by his architect, Don Stauss. He was seeking a certificate of appropriateness for the first of three proposed buildings on the lot.

Plans for the project were originally brought before the Plan Commission in June 2018, and while the Plan Commission believed the certificate should be issued, they did ask that Zimmerschied modify his building plans so the proposed structures looked less like historical replicas and more like new construction in a  historic district, which is in keeping with state of Wisconsin guidelines.

“In this process, we’ve actually made the building a little bigger; it’s a little wider and we lost a little onsite parking, but we are still within the guidelines when you include offsite parking,” said Stauss.

“How much parking did we lose?” asked Mayor and Plan Commission Chairman Mike O’Keefe.

“Three spots – two plus one next to the ADA spot,” said Stauss.

The plan now includes 20 onsite parking spaces and 50 on-street spaces, which are located within 250 feet of the proposed project. The 50 spaces represent 83 percent of available onsite parking in the area.

The new plans submitted for the primary building in the project call for a twostory building, complete with a first-floor patio and a second-floor deck. The building will be constructed with restaurant capabilities, and at a previous city meeting, Zimmerschied noted that the second floor space would fill an existing need in Cedarburg for event space.

Plan commissioners expressed some concern with the proposed parking, even though the project fully conforms to city requirements.

“The majority of parking is offsite, which is permitted by code,” noted City Planner Jon Censky. “We have to really pay attention when the other (planned) buildings come before us, and the type of intended use.”

“Can you say no to a restaurant … God forbid that they are successful,” Commissioner Sig Straumanis said, a bit hypothetically.

“We need to prioritize here,” agreed Commissioner Adam Voltz. “If parking becomes problematic at times, hopefully that means we have successful businesses downtown.”

 The parcel on Mill Street bordered by Washington Avenue and Hanover Street is
slated for three buildings, with a mix of potential uses.
Submitted rendering

Plan Commissioners discussed the fact that there is parking in downtown Cedarburg, including a large, currently privately owned industrial lot on Western Avenue a block away, the Partnership Bank building lot across the street and the Cultural Center lot a block away, though that parking is for their patrons. Additionally, staff noted that there were a number of vacant parcels in and around the downtown area that could ultimately be acquired and developed into parking lots in the future.

Commissioner Heather Cain noted that while there may be available parking farther away, that may deter some patrons from using it, and they may simply pull into the bank lot after hours as an alternative. She also raised the idea of turning the parking on Mill Street into angle parking in hopes that it would add a few more spaces, though Censky said that would also require making it a one-way street.

“If parking is not allowed there, there will be ramifications from the bank,” noted Commissioner Pat Thome. “We do have a variety of parking available downtown; I think we need something like this.”

Zimmerschied noted that he felt parking was not an issue the majority of the time in downtown Cedarburg and that there are already established, successful businesses downtown with little to no parking.

“Look at the Stilt House and how many people they seat in the summer,” he said as an example. “They have zero parking.”

Commissioners also discussed that the Stilt House also is in close proximity to the public lot near City Hall, and that some people had grown accustomed to dropping off passengers in front of the Stilt House and then the driver finding a parking spot after the fact.

However, Zimmerschied also said that, as the developer, his plans are slightly flexible for the project. He noted that the priority building of the three proposed faced Washington Avenue, and that was the one before the Plan Commission on Monday.

“I don’t want to get into a situation where parking is an issue,” he said. “Things have changed a little bit for me (as the developer) already. I actually thought I had a tenant for the smaller building and that didn’t materialize.”

Under a tax incremental financing district, money that would have been paid in property taxes to the city and other taxing districts goes back to pay for the improvements in the district. While the language in the TIF district No. 3 developer’s agreement requires Zimmerschied to create a development with an equalized value of $950,000, it is not specific as to how he should do it.

“It doesn’t say anything about the number of buildings,” he said, noting that eliminating a building would increase the number of onsite parking spots on the parcel. “If parking really does seem to be an issue, maybe we just don’t do that building.”

Plan Commissioners felt that flexibility and a willingness to modify the plans would be a good approach and unanimously approved the request for the certificate of appropriateness, with Zimmerschied abstaining from the vote.