After a developer’s plans to create a 66-unit apartment building on the unused parking lot east of St. Pius X ran into a wall of opposition from some residents of our neighborhood, a separate proposal is moving forward to create a new high school for boys in the former Pius school.
The Lutheran synod that operates the existing Wisconsin Lutheran High School contacted Tosa East Towne Neighborhood Association this month to invite our residents to an open house meeting about the proposal from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 3, at St. Pius.
“Our high school has been studying expansion efforts for a couple years now, as we are experiencing a higher demand for seats than we have available at our current location on 84th Street and Bluemound Avenue,” Kevin Festerling, Wisconsin Lutheran’s school developer, told TETNA.
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod’s plan is to sign a five-year lease for use of the former Pius school, and start with a founding class of 60 students in fall 2018. An additional 60 students would be added each year until the facility becomes a “fully operating high school” of up to 240 students that will be called Kingdom Prep Lutheran High School.
The school will draw students from 30 feeder schools around the Milwaukee area, Festerling said, “with a focus upon growing strong Christian male leaders for the community and the Church.”
The lease depends on Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod obtaining a conditional use permit for the property. A permit application has been submitted, but the timeline for approval wasn’t clear.
Festerling said the plans would include “some healthy improvements to the facility.” That may include the parking lot, though he had no specific details to announce.
The future of that parking lot, across the street from Roosevelt Elementary School, was a point of contention in the neighborhood last fall, when a group of residents formed to block plans for a apartment building, which was to be called The Gridley at East Towne.
The parking lot is mostly unused and deteriorating, and St. Piux X had been looking at redevelopment options. The Gridley was proposed by Cardinal Capital Management, and its design was similar to Cardinal’s earlier apartment development at North Avenue and 85th Street.
But Cardinal faced an uphill battle in receiving a zoning amendment from the city for the 1 1/2 acre-site. The property is in an R2 District, which means it is zoned for low-density residential use. The zoning limits homes on the property to single-family and two-family dwellings.
Opponents packed the developer’s open house in October at Pius, and they mobilized a campaign against the project that included yard signs, a petition drive and door-to-door appeals. The proposal was never brought before the Wauwatosa Plan Commission for consideration.