Council votes help pave way for Reserve development
Downtown site rezoned, preliminary site plan approved

By Dave Fidlin - Special to Conley Media

July 3, 2019

WAUKESHA — After several months of discussion, a planned mixed-use project pitched for underused land in the heart of Waukesha is moving forward after a pair of pivotal votes Tuesday.

The Common Council gave the green light to rezone a 4.21-acre plot of land at the southeast portion of East St. Paul Avenue and the southwest portion of NW Barstow Street for a development dubbed The Reserve.

The technical planned unit development, or PUD, designation was needed for the project to move forward.

Additionally, aldermen approved a preliminary site plan and architectural review linked to the project, which developer Campbell Capital Group is spearheading. The project will consist of 186 apartments and 2,100 square feet of commercial space.

The votes cast Tuesday came on the heels of other decisions made related to the project this past month, including approval of a so-called term sheet. The document laid out all of the parameters of the project, including a $1.5 million grant to Campbell at the time construction commences and a $3.25 million grant as tax increment is generated from the project.

The entire Reserve development is being divided into four lots, City Planner Maria Pandazi said. The first and largest lot will consist of the mixed-use project itself, which will also include commercial space. “Lot 2 will be dedicated to the city as a small park with a performance space that is a logical extension of the Riverwalk,” Pandazi said. “Lot 3 will be sold for future development. Lot 4 will also be donated to the city for future redevelopment opportunities.”

Aldermen voted unanimously in favor of the actual rezoning of the property, but there was dissension with the second vote taken up related to the project.

Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings said she was disappointed the housing units pitched for The Reserve were apartments. She said she would have preferred at least a fraction of the units to be delineated for condominiums.

“Owner occupied, most of the time, is the better way,” Cummings said.

But Alderwoman Elizabeth Moltzan said she was comfortable with the proposed scope of the project as it was presented.

“The developer has done their market study, and I think we should support it,” Moltzan said.

City settles ‘excessive assessment’ lawsuit with Woodman’s

The council on Tuesday also voted in favor of settling a lawsuit between the city and Woodman’s Real Estate Market Inc. concerning land assessments made at the grocer’s store at 1600 E. Main St.

Terms of the agreement call on the city refunding Woodman’s $33,294.19 for payments made in tax years 2017 and 2018. The city needs to give Woodman’s the refund by Sept. 1.

In a memo, City Attorney Brian Running said the settlement impacts the main store, in addition to the ancillary gas station and convenience store. Woodman’s suit against the city claimed values on the parcels should have been $14 million for the main store and $1 million for the convenience store. The city’s assessments, by contrast, were $15.13 million for the main store and $1.46 million for the convenience store. The agreement, Running said, was reached after an extensive process that included mediation.

“Each year, we are sued by several property owners,” Running said of excessive assessment claims brought against the city.