Developer Planning Apartments for Bay View American Legion
Small proposal gets large reaction from Bay View residents and Ald. Tony Zielinski.
Under a plan confirmed by area alderman Tony Zielinski, Genke intends to demolish the building and construct a 36-unit apartment building on the .7 acre site.
Genke, according to Zielinski, has the site under contract for purchase. The developer, who operates SG Property Development + Management, isn’t requesting a subsidy according to Zielinski and the proposal is expected to comply with existing zoning for the site.
But, despite the straight-forward nature of the proposal, Zielinski isn’t rooting for the deal to succeed.
Zielinski, who championed development along Kinnickinnic Ave. and opposed it aggressively in other areas of the neighborhood, said this proposal is in a different area of the Bay View main street than other new projects. “This to me doesn’t fit the mold of the Kinnickinnic and Lincoln area,” said the alderman in an interview.
He said he views this area as primarily residential compared to the more business intensive north end of Kinnickinnic Ave.
And while the street is certainly more urban and business-centric to the north, the T-intersection of S. Kinnickinnic Ave. and S. Fulton St., where the building would be built, has buildings with commercial components on every side.
The site is bordered to the west by the elevated Lake Parkway freeway and Union Pacific railroad tracks, with an Outpost Natural Foods grocery store and a large park on the other side of the highway.
Zielinski said he would not hold a public meeting over the project because Genke has not agreed to appear. The alderman said if a zoning variance was required, a public meeting would be required if he were to consider supporting the project.
Genke did not return a request for comment by the time of publication.
Bring Out The NIMBYs
Genke might be wise to avoid a public meeting with no legal binding. A comment on the Bay View Town Hall Facebook group about opposing the development led to an over 100-comment-long thread that invoked nearly every standard Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) argument.
“It’s a shame they have already ruined Bayview [sic] and it’s going to just put it further into the toilet from over development with no conscience,” said one commenter. Another added: “Bay View is losing the reasons why it’s such a quaint area to live in. All of the buildings with history and character are being torn down and turned into condos. It’s hipster hell now. In 20 years it’s going to be a ghetto again with the cheaply made buildings being assembled just to generate revenue and increase property tax value.”
A handful of commenters indicated support for the project, and one praised Genke’s past work.
Genke isn’t a newcomer to Bay View. His firm owns a number of properties in the neighborhood. His highest-profile project to-date is the 2016 redevelopment of the King Building at 2534 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. into a two-story apartment building, which Zielinski supported. He also has plans to develop the empty lot across the street from the King Building.
About The Current Building
Built in 1941, the 7,194-square-foot building has always been home to George Washington Bay View American Legion Post 180. The organization, however, is facing an uncertain future.
The chapter is led by Ian Nunn, who said the group has no intentions of disbanding. However, the chapter is dealing with declining membership, Nunn told the Bay View Compass. Post 180 has gone from over 1,000 members to fewer than 200.
To offset the lost revenue from declining membership, the group had leased out portions of the building. From 2014 to 2018, Little DeMarini’s operated as a pizza restaurant in a portion of the building’s lower level.
The structure, which is not historically designated by either the city or federal government, has a pending raze permit. Demolition costs are estimated at $35,000. Shoreline Contracting Services would perform the work.
The property, assessed at $480,000, was listed for sale for $725,000 in May. The price was later reduced to $699,000. Terms of Genke’s purchase agreement are not available.
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