Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Admiral’s Wharf Sails Through Committee

City committee okays zoning for 11-story, 133-unit apartment complex in Walker's Point.

By - Nov 19th, 2019 12:30 pm
Admiral's Wharf. Rendering by VJS Construction Services.

Admiral’s Wharf. Rendering by VJS Construction Services.

The Admiral’s Wharf proposal sailed through the Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee on Tuesday morning.

The committee, which includes Alderman Jose G. Perez in whose district the project would be built, unanimously approved a zoning change for the project after hearing details on the 11-story, 133-unit apartment building.

Developer Ryan Bedford is planning the project in partnership with VJS Construction Services. The firm owns the site at 234 S. Water St. and is serving as the project’s general contractor and architect.

Bedford and project architect Katie Kawczynski walked the committee through the building’s design, which includes using an insulated concrete form to build the structure. Bedford said it would be the largest such structure in the state and creates a very energy-efficient building.

“We have some tenants in our buildings that literally never turn the heat on,” said Bedford of the Walker’s Landing complex in the city’s Beerline neighborhood and other apartment buildings the firm has built in the suburbs. He said some use air conditioning in the summer, but the heat is captured and reduced by the concrete structure.

Parking has been the biggest issue for neighbors on this proposal, but none showed up to testify for or against the proposal.

Bedford, as he told the City Plan Commission in October, is still vetting potential around-the-clock valet operators that could increase the parking structure in the building’s base capacity from 138 to 220 stalls. The increase would be achieved by reducing the number of driving lanes in the garage from two to one. “There’s the ability to park more cars in obscure positions,” said Bedford.

But valet service comes at a cost. “Right now it’s in excess of $200,000 a year to staff,” said Bedford in response to a question from Ald. Russell W. Stamper, II. The developer said he continues to meet with neighborhood stakeholders to learn about their parking needs and capacity.

During the project’s plan commission hearing, residents of the six-story Water Streets Lofts condominium building across N. Broadway from the building site said it would make their parking situation worse. The Water Street Lofts’ indoor parking garage has been flooded for the past five months and many residents are parking on the street. VJS representatives said their building is being designed to ensure it stays above the water table.

The parking garage occupies the building’s first three floors. “The original plan was to do four floors of parking, but we felt from the outside that it just looked terrible,” said Bedford. The Department of City Development‘s planning division, led by Vanessa Koster, has worked with Bedford and VJS on the building’s design and materials design. Koster said the masonry material choice remains to be worked out by next week’s Common Council meeting.

The loss of river views was also an issue for residents during the prior hearing, but Koster and Perez both noted Tuesday that views are not protected by the zoning code. Two approved buildings for the site that didn’t move forward were taller than what Bedford is proposing.

The .7-acre site is currently undeveloped and used for storage. Bedford estimated that when complete the development would generate approximately $600,000 in annual incremental property tax revenue.

A 2,947-square-foot commercial space would be included in the building, intended for use as a shared office space, and a 367-square-foot retail space would be available along the riverwalk. Kawczynski said they’re working to use the southeast corner of the riverwalk space as a kayak rental space.

Units in the building would range from approximately 650-square-foot studios to 1,500-square-foot, three-bedroom penthouses on the building’s top floor. Rents are projected to be approximately $2.20 per square foot per month, said Bedford. Under that rate, the smallest studio would rent for $1,430 per month with the penthouses going for $3,300 per month. The per-square-foot figure is in line with many other new buildings in the downtown area.

The penthouses would have each have a private deck. A shared amenity deck and room would be included on the 10th floor overlooking the river and lake.

A mural would be included along the riverwalk in partnership with Harbor District Inc. A design has not been selected according to Kawczynski.

Design Iterations


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One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Admiral’s Wharf Sails Through Committee”

  1. jayoak says:

    This looks like something out of the old Soviet Union. Bunker mentality. Anything for the tax base.

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