Council Kills Prospect Ave High Rise
Impressive 27-story, $55 million project is dead, due to opposition of neighbors.
The Milwaukee Common Council effectively killed a $55 million, 27 story tower proposed for 1550 N. Prospect Ave. today. The proposed apartment building required a zoning change to allow it to move forward. The council voted 10-5 to approve that change, but didn’t meet the super majority requirement for the vote. Alderman Robert Bauman led the opposition to the project on the basis that the proposed tower is “just too much building for the site.”
Chris Houden and his Madison-based firm DCH Properties, whose firm proposed the project, released this statement: “We are incredibly disappointed that while the majority of the council supported the development, a small minority blocked what would have been a $55 million investment in the city. Like a majority of the council, we believe that the development would have been a win-win-win for our community – bringing a $55 million project to the city, creating new jobs for city residents and ensuring the restoration and revitalization of the historic Goll House.”
Residents of 1522 on the Lake, an 18-floor condominium tower immediately to the south, formed the majority of the opposition to the tower. In advance of today’s meeting, the project opponents filed a petition requiring the proposed zoning change to be approved by a super-majority of the council. Opposition was led by 1522 resident Patrick Dunphy, who is a partner at law firm Cannon and Dunphy.
Bauman, whose district includes the land, stated during the meeting that “I’m a strong proponent of density, I’m maybe the strongest proponent of density on this council. But being a proponent of urban density doesn’t mean that every project gets rubber stamped without scrutiny and without input of residents.” The downtown alderman has adamantly objected to the project, proclaiming he would say no “even if the neighbors were for it because I believe this project is of inappropriate scale for the location.”
At a zoning committee hearing last week, residents of 1522 on the Lake contended they do support development of the site. As Dunphy put it: “Am I opposed to development? Absolutely not.” Yet Dunphy and residents of the building have now led the opposition to two proposals for the site.
Speaking before the council today, Ald. Jim Bohl, chair of the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development committee, suggested the opposition was all about some 1522 on the Lake residents losing their lake views, saying “they have indicated that it isn’t a matter of site views. I will largely beg to differ.”
Revert the Zoning
Bauman is proposing to rezone the land to RM-7, the highest density level in the city’s zoning code. The site, which is currently subject to a 2008 spot zoning change that allows only a narrow tower, would be reverted to base zoning that requires 33 percent less parking than is being proposed. The base zoning level would also set the maximum size of the building at just under 112,000 square-feet, far less than the roughly 360,000 square-foot development being proposed by DCH.
Is reverting the zoning the silver bullet? Not quite. While Bauman joked at committee that his proposal would save everyone from having to endure two hours of testimony, Ald. Nik Kovac noted that going back to RM-7 would increase the incentive for a developer to demolish the mansion. Bohl made a similar argument on the council floor at today’s meeting.