Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

The Contour is Coming to Prospect

Construction will start in next 60 days on East Side apartment building.

By - Sep 12th, 2016 02:26 pm
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The Prospect Apartments rendering. Rendering by Rinka Chung Architecture.

The Contour Apartments rendering. Rendering by Rinka Chung Architecture.

Joseph Property Development will begin construction on a new apartment building at 2214 N. Prospect Ave. in the coming weeks. The 80-unit building, originally announced in September 2015, is being designed by Rinka Chung Architecture. The six-story building will be known as The Contour, reflecting its design which bows out towards N. Prospect Ave. at the northwest and southwest corners.

The site is currently occupied by a surface parking lot and 2,520 square-foot Qdoba Mexican Grill restaurant, the latter of which permanently closed yesterday to make way for the project. Burrito lovers need not fear a shortage, a construction fence is already up on the lot at 1348 E. Brady St. where Wisconsin-franchisee Roaring Fork Restaurant Group will build a two-story building to house a new Qdoba.

Project plans, approved last fall by the East Side Architectural Review Board, include 73 parking stalls on a lower-level accessed from N. Prospect Ave. and 63 stalls on the first floor of the building accessed off E. Ivanhoe Pl. More than enough parking for the building’s residents and commercial tenants, leaving stalls available for users of the firms other area buildings. The northwest corner of the site at N. Prospect Ave. and E. Ivanhoe Pl. would include almost 10,000 square-feet of retail space. As with their other projects, Joseph will serve as the own general contractor on the $14 million project. The firm plans to open the building in 2017.

Apartments will be a of mix market-rate of one- and two-bedroom units. The building will have an L shape, with the bulk of the massing along N. Prospect Ave. to match Joseph’s the Overlook on Prospect apartments directly across the street.

Robert Joseph is no stranger to the heart of the East Side. In the past three years his firm has opened the Edge on North apartments (39 units, James Piwoni Architects) and the Overlook on Prospect apartments (52 units, Miller Architectural Group). The latter was built in the former Prospect Mall, a project Joseph’s grandfather George Bockl originally developed. Joseph noted that those two buildings are effectively fully leased in an interview this morning.

Architectural review board member and Colectivo Coffee co-owner Lincoln Fowler is excited about the project. At last fall’s ARB hearing, Fowler stated “something should be there. [The site is] one of the missing teeth, if you will, on Prospect.” Fowler would know, he operates a coffee shop across the street at 2211 N. Prospect Ave. and owns the building occupied by the newly-opened Village Ace Hardware at 2170 N. Prospect Ave.

Will the development help calm traffic on a stretch of N. Prospect Ave. that drivers often mistake for a straightaway at the Milwaukee Mile? Architect Matt Rinka believes so, during the building’s review board hearing he noted “the fact that there is open parking makes people feel they can speed on Prospect. The hard edge of the building will slow people down. We discuss this in Urban Design Strategies class.”

The building also offers a twist on modern apartment design, with terracotta being planned to form the black bands seen in the building design. The material, which Rinka billed as “expensive, historic and modern,” is found on many historic buildings in the area, but likely none built in the past 90 years. For more on the terracotta and a discussion of two-way traffic for Prospect and Farwell avenues with area alderman Nik Kovac, see Michael Horne‘s September 19th, 2015 article “Prospect Avenue Apartments Win Board OK.”

Renderings and Site Photos

26 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: The Contour is Coming to Prospect”

  1. Alba says:

    The Ace Hardware is not a good fit there – it’s out of place. I give it 6 more months.

  2. Love the contributions tracker says:

    February 3, 2016, Robert Joseph makes his first and only political contribution to Nik Kovac. Within 6 months, the project is announced to the public.

    Is this really his only contribution? Or was this meant to make Robert Joseph looks corrupt?

  3. Is $417 an odd amount to contribute? says:

    Why $417? Is that how much was left in the budget? Did that fill a need? Was that meant to be a top 10% contributor?

  4. Sean says:

    @Alba, I could not agree more with you! That Ace was doomed from the start. When the bike shop moved out, I thought the restaurateurs would be chomping at the bit for that location, I was very surprised to see a hardware store move in.

  5. Jeramey Jannene says:

    $417 was likely the legal contribution limit at that time.

    Joseph’s family has long been connected to Milwaukee politics. There are certainly more contributions out there, they just have not yet been entered in our system.

    There is no public money in this deal and the project met zoning requirements, so contributing to Kovac wouldn’t have done much to help get this project approved. The ARB unanimously approved it as well.

  6. Kris says:

    So, you are basically taking away parking – which is already in high demand on the East side. Those of us who work down here, can never find parking as it is. Now the only large parking lot in the area is being taken away. Nice job Milwaukee.

  7. Rob B says:

    I like that the lower (well middle) east side has a local hardware store. It was a blow to Brady street losing their’s. Call me old school or urban but I want to be able to walk, bike, or short drive to get misc hardware and supply items. I hope it doesn’t fail as there are already enough bars and restaurants in that area.

  8. Ryan N says:

    @Kris hopefully the rest of the lots are developed as well.

  9. Sam says:

    @ Kris There are two parking garages a block or two away from this surface parking lot. One of them is even free.

    I know parking is at a premium on the East Side (former resident), but relative to other cities it isn’t remotely bad or underserved.

  10. Marg says:

    Can’t wait for the condo/apartment bust to arrive

  11. Dave Reid says:

    @Marg Why? And I would add that nobody is building condos in Milwaukee.

  12. Ben T says:

    Nice job Jeramey on the terra cotta!! 😀

  13. Jj says:

    Does anyone know when the parking lot will officially be closed?

  14. Sean says:

    @Marg (10) The condo market and apartment market are two separate things. Condos have busted a long time ago and apartments are thriving perfect example is Park Lafayette Towers right next to where this is being built. Most of the new construction is interchangeable from apartment to condo so when one market suffers the other thrives…keep waiting.

  15. Kristine Wagner says:

    @Sam if you can provide more info on the parking garages it would be appreciated.

  16. Kris says:

    @Jj the parking lot closed today 9/15/16 – signs down, meter is gone.

  17. Marg says:

    Dave, Sean: I didn’t realize condos are passé.
    Does every conceivable empty lot have to have an apt bldg? Not to mention, most of them are hideous . And where are apts for lower income workers?
    I drove down Commerce last week. Looks like a new bldg tenement, and barely a driving lane on the street. From the other side of the river it looks like a shanty town.
    Sorry to sound harsh, but the east side is way overcrowded .

  18. Dudemeister says:

    I oft ponder why people like Marg (and, to a lesser extent, Kris) choose to live in any developed locale. And subsequently choose to comment on a site called “Urban Milwaukee.”

    If the comment wasn’t as grammatically proof-read as it is, I would assume it was a troll post. The statements are so anti-urban, one is forced to ask: seriously?

  19. Sean says:

    @Dudemeister, great comment, I totally agree. Complaining about over crowding and expense in the downtown market is absolutely trollish behavior. Downtown in any city is expensive and crowded. Some people need to get out and experience the rest of the world, to realize it isn’t that bad in downtown Milwaukee.

  20. Kris says:

    @dudemeister – I do not live on the East Side, I work here. I love the area, my concern is the parking or the lack of.

  21. Tim says:

    Kris, are you worried that if it’s too congested no one will go there? Maybe ride your bike, take a bus, or get a new job if it’s personally terrible for you to find other parking arrangements.

  22. Kris says:

    @tim – yes congestion is an issue. It is especially worrisome now with school in session and kids riding their bikes in the morning (they are with their parents) but still, the cars are just flying down these streets. No one seems to remember that the pedestrians have the right of way. As I stated before, I love the area…the feel of it. People just need to be mindful of others.

  23. Marg says:

    I love downtown and have lived on the east side most of my life. I feel there is a need for low income housing in these areas, not just on the “other side of town”.
    I have never seen traffic on North Ave., Prospect,
    Farewell as bad as it is today. No parking where you live.
    My post is grammatically proof-read? I take that as a compliment.

  24. Justin A says:

    Why didn’t this project break ground yet?!

  25. Virginia says:

    News flash: Marg isn’t the only one who worries that Downtown/East Side might be overbuilding apartments. A GMC staffer said at a recent UWM SARUP event that an urban planner working on the “MKE Future” project is also expressing that concern.

    Others have also speculated that once the market gets over-saturated that a bust could devalue many of these now-hot apartments. It’s just a market reality. Sean (14) could prove right–for a while–in his optimism that somehow they’ll shift to condos. Nonetheless, one reason condos are not more popular is that they often do not hold their value in many markets.

    It’s not “anti-urban” to be aware of boom-and-bust trends.

    Also, some parts of Downtown could definitely use more residents. Part of that is a result of “urban renewal” efforts that cleared out lower-income people by demolishing venerable old hotels/apartment buildings. On places like Michigan they were replaced by endless parking ramps for commercial buildings.

    Urban planners & politicians have made many ill-advised–even tragic–decisions. But they usually were supported by being part of a hot trend.

  26. Dave Reid says:

    @Virginia “Others have also speculated that once the market gets over-saturated that a bust could devalue many of these now-hot apartments,” yup if any market ever gets over-saturated then yes it could impact values, so? Now you have more affordable apartment units! Great. But “over-saturation” (meaning more units than demand) isn’t really the argument being made apparently by you, Marq, or said nameless planner. Marq clearly was arguing against density: “Sorry to sound harsh, but the east side is way overcrowded,” not over-saturation, that’s anti-density which is in fact pro-sprawl.

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