UPDATE 2: The project is scheduled to go before the Wauwatosa Plan Commission on Nov 7th
UPDATE: The developer has scheduled a neighborhood meeting to answer residents’ questions at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, in the cafeteria at St. Pius X.
A proposal to build a 66-unit apartment building on the unused parking lot east of St. Pius X and across the street from Roosevelt Elementary School has generated a considerable amount of discussion in the neighborhood.
The proposal, named The Gridley at East Towne, had been scheduled to go before the Wauwatosa Plan Commission on Oct. 10, but it was moved to the commission’s Nov. 7 agenda instead, allowing more time for the developers to meet with residents.
The Tosa East Towne Neighborhood Association is a nonpartisan group and does not take sides in political debates. The board, however, would like to help get information out about the proposal and any public meetings scheduled on it.
With that in mind, we are sharing these details from the developer’s application for a zoning amendment. (You can review the full application by clicking here.) We expect this will help answer some of our residents’ initial questions about the project, and we will share more as we learn it.
First of all, the developer is Cardinal Capital Management. You may recall that this was the company behind the Pasadena apartments on North Avenue at 85th Street, just east of Sendik’s. The design of The Gridley is similar, as shown in this rendering by Arc-Int Architecture.
That is what the project would look like if you were standing on the sidewalk in front of Roosevelt looking west. It is three stories and would sit on the east half of the St. Pius X parking lot, at the southeast corner of 74th and Wright streets. The exterior is to be made from masonry veneer, painted composite siding, fiberglass windows and asphalt shingles.
The developer is under contract to buy about 1 1/2 acres from St. Pius, leaving the church with a parcel just over 3 acres. The building would be just over 90,000 sqft and sit on a 23,000 sqft footprint.
“The parking lot itself is old and there is a retaining wall years past its life expectancy,” Dean Weyer, director of administrative services for St. Pius, told BizTimes in June, before a buyer had been found. “As we look forward, we either invest a substantial amount of money or we turn our asset into a liquid asset and invest wisely.”
The apartments at The Gridley would be rented at market rate, as opposed to units that are rented below market rate to make them affordable and qualify for government incentives. The Gridley’s 66 units would be 34 one-bedroom apartments, 12 one-bedroom-plus-den units, and 20 two-bedroom units, the proposal says.
The development would include 90 parking spots, with 66 of them enclosed under the building. The other 24 would be surface spaces located on the west side of the building, as seen in the rendering below.
The proposal indicates that the developer would obtain an easement from St. Pius to use its driveway on West Wright Street, across from 75th Street.
So why is Cardinal going to the Plan Commission? 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. The city would need to make a zoning amendment to allow higher-density use. At the same time, the proposed building would use up less of the parcel, 36 percent, than zoning requires, 42 percent.
Also the setbacks on the east and south side, 6 feet, would be under what is allowed for the parcel. And the building’s height, 38 feet, would exceed the allowed building height by a few feet.
The developer notes that this is not a typical parcel in the neighborhood.
“The building scale and height will be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood including the institutional uses to the east (Roosevelt Elementary School) and west (St. Pius),” the proposal says.
The proposal also notes that the 90 parking stalls exceed the minimum of 76 spaces required by zoning.
Finally, the developer lists what it sees as “benefit to City” of the project. That full passage is quoted below for residents’ review:
“The proposed development provides greater benefits to the City than would a development carried out in accordance with otherwise applicable zoning ordinance standards. Importantly, the Project would result in increased tax revenues for the City by creating a quality taxable infill development at on an under utilized tax exempt property. The Project would be both compatible with the scale and character of the neighborhood while allowing for greater densities and investment than could be achieved under the current code.
“The Project and zoning amendment are consistent with the goals and recommendations of both the City of Wauwatosa Comprehensive Plan (the “Comprehensive Plan”) and the City of Wauwatosa Comprehensive Housing Study and Needs Analysis (the “Housing Study”). Both the Comprehensive Plan and Housing study note the need for additional housing units given expected population growth and expected declines in household size. Other demographic trends suggest that quality rental multifamily units, in particular, will experience an increase in demand.
“Because the city is landlocked and a relatively limited amount of residential land is available for redevelopment, both the Comprehensive Plans and Housing study encourage the identification of nonresidential sites for residential infill development as well as increased densities that are consistent with the character of the conununity[sic]. Such development will be important in maintaining and growing the City’s population as well as potentially attracting an increasing the proportion of Wauwatosa workers who live in the city.”