Graham Kilmer

The Great Bay View Debate

$25 million, six-floor “gateway” project fuels debate over future of Bay View.

By - Jun 27th, 2017 04:21 pm
Rendering of proposed apartment building at 2130 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Rendering by Korb + Associates Architects.

Rendering of proposed apartment building at 2130 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Rendering by Korb + Associates Architects.

After a marathon public comment session the City Plan Commission voted unanimously Monday in favor of a zoning change required by a new large mixed-use development in Bay View.

The $25 million six-story development at 2130 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. would have 144 residential units and 15,000 square feet of commercial space, and is viewed by its supporters as a bold project and a boon to local business, but its detractors worry about how it will affect parking in the neighborhood.

The project is on the corner of S. Kinnickinnic Ave. and E. Bay St. It’s being developed by Tim Gokhman of New Land Enterprises. After Monday’s vote at the plan commission the project goes next to the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee.

The project’s developers were interested in creating a closer connection between the building and Zilman Park, located just south of the project, said Randy Wilhelm, an architect with Korb + Associates Architects, which is handling the project’s design. The residential entrance for the building would be on the south end just across from the park. Also, on the park side, the building would feature softer colors and shades of greens.

The northern end of the building, which will be seen as drivers enter Bay View heading south, draws inspiration from the nearby site of the long-gone, historic rolling mills. Architects have incorporated shades of orange and blue in a “large curved facade” to reference the visuals of rolling steel, said Wilhelm.

Even as the project moves toward securing the zoning change it needs, many of the concerns and praise heard at past public meetings continues. And the conversation has become a debate between two competing views of Bay View.

There are those who see the project as another change to historic Bay View, who seem to value the status-quo over growth and its potential effects, good or bad. Then there are the residents that see the project as a symbol of the things they cherish about today’s Bay View, like a thriving commercial district, a variety of business and retail and the ability to attract and create new Bay Viewers.

The nearby residents that spoke in disapproval of the project Monday were in the minority, but all mentioned parking as a concern. Many complained there’s already inadequate street parking in the neighborhood around Kinnickinnic Ave.

Jeff Raasch, a local resident who circulated a petition against the project, said “Parking is probably the biggest concern for everybody.”

Plans for the building would dedicate nearly the entire second floor to parking, with more than 180 spaces. City code only requires about 90 spaces for a building of this size. And many of the project’s supporters that live and work in the area say parking is not as big an issue as some suggest.

The developers, area alderman Tony Zielinski and the majority of speakers at the meeting, however, lauded the project as a fine architectural statement for this gateway to the Kinnickinnic commercial corridor.

The project has yet to see disapproval from any business owner voiced at a public meeting, likely thanks to the increased density and foot traffic the project would bring to the area — something nearly every owner said the corridor could use.

One local business owner put the need for the project in starker terms. Mike Bodow, co-owner of Crafty Cow on Kinnickinnic and a member of the Kinnickinnic Business Improvement District, said he thinks neighborhood development might operate similarly to the restaurant business in that, “You’re either growing or you’re dying.”

For Bodow, the project is key to the future of Bay View. “What we’re doing is trying to grow the neighborhood,” he said “For people like me who plan on living here forever. I’m 32, I want to live here forever.”

Lee Barczak, chair of the Kinnickinnic Business Improvement District (BID) and owner of the Avalon Theater, said even with rising investment in the commercial corridor, BID members frequently hear from residents that they want and need a greater variety of businesses.

“We see the necessity of additional residential density,” he said.

Nearby residents that don’t support the project also mention traffic on Kinnickinnic and the height of the building. Raasch said the new building would be “towering over our neighborhood.” Several others said it would create a “canyon effect” going down Kinnickinnic Ave.

Gokhman responded to this concern, noting that for “gateway” projects like this the city encourages developers to go bigger — with a site zoned for a 60-foot-tall building to build up to 70 feet. He added that tall buildings tend to slow traffic down.

Zielinski called the project “one of the most important and exciting” in Bay View. As for the naysayers he said, “If we listened to everybody that was opposed to any project we’d have nothing happening in Bay View.”


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Categories: Real Estate

21 thoughts on “The Great Bay View Debate”

  1. Toni Toni Toni says:

    “If we listened to everybody that was opposed to any project we’d have nothing happening in Bay View.” Said the man who fought the MKE Street Car because “his constituents didn’t want it.”
    Personally I like this project, but that Tony Z is full of BS.

  2. Eric says:

    Love it. Obviously, a good design. Plenty of parking, increases foot traffic, brings in business and looks good while doing it.

  3. Eric S says:

    Maybe/hopefully the increased pedestrian traffic this project could generate will give a push to the city to redo that horribly-pedestrian-unfriendly (and dangerous) intersection as well. It is massively overbuilt and those channelized right turns make for an exceptionally hostile pedestrian environment.

  4. Steve says:

    Amen Toni Toni Toni!

  5. Justin A says:

    Maybe I missed it but when is this project supposed to start?

  6. David Ciepluch says:

    My wife Deborah and I enjoy shopping at a number of the businesses along KK Avenue and the Bay View area. We drive in and park. A project like this is a plus in the area for increasing density and Milwaukee’s property tax base. It is an obvious plus for local businesses and the community. Many main streets went into decay across the US and major cities due to big box retail. The process of community main street reinvention takes time and patience. And there will be successes and missteps along the way. Bay View is kind of a city within a city, and in my opinion seems to be a great example of progress in a positive direction.

  7. Izzy says:

    Those whose lives and property that will be directly affected should have a major say so. It is easy for people who don’t live near it, or business owners who have business near there but live in the suburbs to give it the thumbs up. Because it doesn’t affect them negatively. The developers where disrespectful to the concerns of the tax paying home owners nearby, which means they will be disrespectful to the neighborhood. Tony Zilinski doesn’t care about his constituents concerns, just the business owners who paid him off for this project.

  8. Toni Toni Toni says:

    Izzy is on to something here. Is Tony getting kick backs form all of these developments? The guy bought property on the lake, knocked it downed, and is building a new construction in its place. That’s a pretty amazing lifestyle for somebody with an Alderman’s salary. Not that he couldn’t just be independently wealthy… but something stinks in Bay View, and this time it’s not Malorganite.
    Please do some investigative reporting on this…

  9. Joe R says:

    I live on Madison’s east side, and the debate on Bay View development is almost word-for-word what we’ve heard about Willy Street here for decades: “Too much development will ruin the character of the neighborhood!” Bollocks. If the local residents and city planning boards pay attention to the rules and guidelines and don’t roll over for the developers, Bay View will thrive, as Willy St. has.

  10. MrsKC1008 says:

    Oh man! If Bayview is the next Willy St, I will stay forever!

  11. Paul says:

    I knew the major complaint would be about parking–because you know, all the most desirable urban neighborhoods in the US are low-density areas checkered with parking lots and free on-street private vehicle storage.

    Neighborhoods evolve, and as long as it’s done thoughtfully (as this appears to be), I don’t see what the fuss is about. If Bay View wants to sustain all the cute little independent shops and restaurants, it needs more foot traffic and density, or else a lot of those businesses will teeter precariously. This isn’t the 20th century anymore.

    This development also adds variety to the housing market. There are people who may want to live in Bay View but who don’t want a house/yard–or a flat in a house (and let’s be real, a lot of the houses in Bay View are kind of ugly, even if “quaint”). The few apartment buildings in the area are generally older (though affordable/modest). This new development allows renters of means to have a nice new building, and the other options also remain available for other folks. Seems like a win-win to me. At a time when other cities are seeing their housing costs spiraling out of control, Milwaukee stays pretty affordable because we keep adding to the housing stock.

    My only concern with this project is the experience for the pedestrian/flaneur–calming traffic and making the crossings safe.

  12. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @Justin A – Gokhman said at the meeting that they don’t anticipate starting construction until next year.

  13. Julie says:

    @Paul- have you been in Bay View lately? Nearly every block is a new apt complex in that section of KK . You really can’t say “the few apartment buildings in the area are generally older.” The sheer volume of available apts scares me. Can we see if they can be filled before adding more?

  14. Tom T. says:

    New development has given Bay View identity and personality. It was awful 20 years ago.

  15. Paul says:

    @Julie – I’m in BV on a regular basis. There really aren’t that many new apartment buildings there. Sure, there are a couple that dot KK, but they are still pretty few and far between. When you head south on KK from Becher to Oklahoma, you can count the number of sizable apartment developments on one hand. Most of that stretch is small sided houses and stubby brick buildings. There are lots of dead spaces and low-density areas that–at least from a pure physical standpoint–could just as well be in Janesville or Beloit or Canton, Ohio or somesuch.

    The new apartment buildings that do exist stand out as exceptions to the rule and still constitute a pretty small percentage of the housing choices in BV.

  16. Tom DeWire says:

    Density is important, keeps rents down, improves tax base, improves business climate, encourages better transit, can help slow traffic, attracts investment in the neighborhood, encourages less energy consumption… but my parking lot! My view of the BP!

    Sorry to say to homeowners, but you don’t own every lot in your neighborhood. Other people are allowed to live in and enjoy the city as well. It’s not your right to stop them – you might even like your new neighbors.

  17. David Ciepluch says:

    To me Bay View is a great example of a successful older community with a nice cross section of mixed uses, parks, Lake Michigan shoreline, bike and walking paths, 5-10 minute connections via freeway to Downtown Milwaukee and other parts of Milwaukee, and a developing cross section of people of economic classes, ethnic groups, religions, etc.

    The area of Greenfield Avenue, east of 1st. Street, and south to Bay Street offers another future development potential that will add onto Bay View and Milwaukee. For decades this has been largely vacant, underutilized, abandoned industrial lands that had been historically filled over wetlands. The former Solvay Coke Plant is in the process of environmental cleanup. This large area adjacent Bay View could add to the vitality of Milwaukee over the next decade. We are slowly replacing the old industrial properties with other forms of use with people and different views available. This is all infill and reinvention of our old neighborhoods, instead of expanding on farmlands of suburbia. It is changing and adding to the “Face” of Milwaukee and make it an attractive destination where people want to live, visit, recreation, and spend their tourism dollars.

    I can decide to attend a movie at the remodeled Avalon and nearby visits, or head to the outskirts of the City. My preference is usually spend as much as I can in the City since it provides economic churn here.

  18. Adam says:

    Did they speak about what is happening with the homes on E Archer Ave at the public session? From the renderings, it appears as if those homes are gone and the drive for the tenant entry goes right up against Zillman Park. The biggest issue I would have with this development would be if it is being created at the expense of homeowners losing their property.

    I am also not too enthusiastic about the design. I wish the developers would incorporate more of the neighbor aesthetic into their designs, so it blends in better with the older historic buildings on KK. This developer recently opened The Rhythm on Water St, which to me is ugly and looks almost like a prison. I think this design is slightly better than that, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in how the final product will look.

  19. Dave Reid says:

    @Adam Nobody is losing their property. (If you mean eminent domain that is definitely not happening – very rare occurrence really). Now I believe New Land has purchased or will purchase some homes to make space for this project, but that’s not the same thing as losing their property.

  20. Adam says:

    @Dave Understood. I wasn’t assuming eminent domain necessarily, but do they want to sell their homes? What if homeowners don’t want to sell to make way for this project?

  21. Dave Reid says:

    @Adam Well then they could sell their properties if they want to or not. I have’t followed closely enough but, just a guess, I would think New Land has already resolved this (will try to include more of this info in a future story). And from a quick glance 1 of the 2 properties in questions looks like it might not be a home residence but possibly an investment property?

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