Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Wangard Advances Harbor District Plan

Plan Commission approves rezoning request for 200-unit apartment complex.

By - Apr 22nd, 2019 03:58 pm
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Commercial Heat Treating. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Commercial Heat Treating. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Wangard Partners plans to break ground later this year on a planned 200-unit apartment building that straddles two of the biggest real estate projects in town.

The firm is seeking to redevelop the recently vacated Commercial Heat Treating site, which is immediately east of the Komatsu Mining Corp. development and across the Kinnickinnic River from Michels Corp‘s River One development. “We feel fortunate,” said Wangard director of retail development Mark Lake, who expects the project to be a success.

The firm hopes to land Komatsu and Michels employees as residents, many of whom may be moving from jobs in the suburbs or new to the area, as residents. “Most people like to live, generally speaking, where they work,” said Lake.

Lake told the City Plan Commission that Wangard will close on the site at 1958 S. 1st St. in two weeks. The commission unanimously recommended a request to rezone the site to the city’s “industrial mixed” designation which would permit Wangard’s intended plan. The 2.4-acre site sits between S. 1st St. and S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

The project falls within the city’s Harbor District plan area, which envisions the site being redeveloped. “The planned rezoning before you today is very consistent with those recommendations,” said city planning manager Vanessa Koster.

Design plans for the project have not been shared publicly, but Lake said the firm plans to include a parking garage and commercial space in the base of the building. The 10,000-square-feet of commercial space is being targeted at a full-service restaurant.

Kahler Slater has been selected as the project architect.

A number of items still need to be resolved with the project. Lake said Wangard is working with the city on the design of the riverwalk segment, but because of the height of the adjacent bridges, it is likely to be disconnected from neighboring properties. Lake said public river access from S. 1st St. would be part of the development.

The firm is also working with the city on what to do with E. Anderson Ave. The street, according to Lake, serves only the Anderson development currently. He said a number of options for the city-owned street are being considered.

Environmental contamination on the site would be abated as part of the development. “We’re going to put a building on it. We’re going to cap it,” said Lake. “The other good thing is most of the historic fill is above the water line.”

A small parcel of city-owned land would also be sold for the development. Lake said Wangard hopes to clear all the necessary approval hurdles in advance of the Common Council’s August recess.

Construction is scheduled to begin before the end of the year. “It will probably take most of the winter to put in the parking lot because that’s a lot of concrete,” said Lake. Wangard is planning at least one parking stall per apartment. The commercial space would share parking with the residents.

Wangard hopes to capitalize on the leasing success of its nearby Freshwater Plaza apartments. “If you look at Freshwater Plaza, we were full when we opened and are full,” said Lake of the building that opened in 2017. “We anticipate the same thing here.”

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