Around the Neighborhood


Neighborhood residents invited to info meeting on solar power group buy

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a guest column providing our residents with information on an upcoming event. Although it is not a TETNA event, we are happy to share info on initiatives underway in our neighborhood.

Are you motivated to do your part to combat climate change? Are you motivated to save money on your energy bill? Then take your motivation to the first “Power Hour” meeting for SolarTosa Solar Group Buy at 6 p.m. May 17 in the Firefly Room at the Wauwatosa Library.

Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) and Milwaukee Shines are organizing a contract between a Solar Contractor and several (hopefully many!) home and business owners in the area for the financial benefit of buying in bulk. They have successfully orchestrated several other solar group buys in Wisconsin and Illinois, including in Shorewood and Bay View.

The group buy process relieves the homeowner of some paperwork, provides owner-specific energy-use analysis and helps ensure quality installation. The more local residents get involved, the cheaper your solar installation will be. Solar power has come a long way and the cost of solar panels has come down significantly. Add in a Solar Group Buy, and that cost comes down even more.

So tell your neighbors about this great opportunity to help the Earth and your pocketbook at the same time. There are still state and federal incentives for home and business owners who install solar. Now is the time to get involved with your fellow neighbors and take a stand against a changing climate! If you are interested or have questions, please ask, we want to hear from you.

For more information, visit SolarTosa.com or contact Peter Murphy at peterm@midwestrenew.org or 414-988-7963.

A second Power Hour is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 31 at Red Dot Wauwatosa, and other meetings will be advertised throughout the summer to provide information and allow home and business owners to ask questions. All are welcome.


Wisconsin Lutheran’s operator eyes St. Pius X for new boys’ high school

St. Piux XAfter 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.


Join us April 8 for our Spring Egg Hunt, sponsored by Indulgence Chocolatiers

Egg Hunt 2016One of TETNA’s most popular events of the year is a great way for families to get outdoors as winter turns to spring. The annual Spring Egg Hunt draws dozens of young egg seekers to Center Street Park a week before Easter, and this year’s hunt is set for April 8 at 10 a.m.

Indulgence Chocolatiers logoWe were fortunate to have Indulgence Chocolatiers as sponsor of the event in 2016, providing chocolates to participants and a gift card to one lucky drawing winner. We’re happy to have Indulgence back again as sponsor of the 2017 event.

Facebook eventTo participate, just bring a basket and your smiling faces! All families with current memberships participate for free. If you are not a member, you may pay your $10 dues at the event.

And if you are available to volunteer to help with the activities on April 8, please email Kathleen Flanders at katflanders@yahoo.com.

Check tosaeasttowne.org and TETNA’s Facebook page for more details as we get closer to the event date.


Help TETNA identify events for 2017 neighborhood calendar

Do you have an idea for a new public event in the Tosa East Towne neighborhood? Do you have suggestions for making existing neighborhood events better? If so, we want your input at our next meeting, at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13.

Tosa East Towne Neighborhood Association is dedicated to improving the quality of life in our neighborhood, and one of the most visible ways we carry out that mission – with the help of your annual dues – is by organizing events that all our residents can enjoy.

Hundreds of children participate each year in our neighborhood’s Trick or Treat, held on the Saturday evening before Halloween. Hundreds of residents come out to run and walk in our Run Tosa Run, held each May. TETNA also organizes an egg hunt before Easter, a neighborhood-wide rummage sale, the Taste of East Tosa dinner party, an outdoor movie night and occasional social gatherings at North Avenue hotspots. And we gladly support great events in our neighborhood that are organized by other groups, such as Que & Brew in July and Fall Fest in October.

As we get started with planning our 2017 events, we’re looking for residents’ feedback on which events we should emphasis, which ones we should downplay (or even phase out) and whether there is something new we should try this year.

Facebook eventIf you’d like to contribute your ideas – whether or not you have time to help plan our events – join us at 7 p.m. Feb. 13 in the Center Street Park pavilion for our monthly meeting. We have scheduled an hour-long work session to help focus our efforts as we finalize TETNA’s calendar of events for the year.

Come be a part of what makes our neighborhood a great place to live!

For more information or to submit your ideas by email, contact us at info@tosaeasttowne.org.


Apartments proposed for Pius lot detailed in zoning amendment request

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.

sideview

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 survey-mapsoutheast 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.

siteplan

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.”