Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Plan Commission Okays East Side Project

But driveways to four townhomes take away street parking on Jefferson, which concerns some.

By - Jun 22nd, 2021 05:53 pm
The 1540 office building and four townhomes form The 1500s development. Rendering by Design Manage Advise.

The 1540 office building and four townhomes form The 1500s development. Rendering by Design Manage Advise.

Josh Delaney‘s plan to develop an office building for his internet businesses and four townhomes secured its first endorsement Monday, but not everyone loves the proposal.

Known as The 1500s, the proposal includes a three-story office building (The 1540) and four townhomes along N. Jefferson St. between E. Pleasant St. and E. Lyon St. Delaney would live in one of the townhomes with his family and rent out the remaining homes for between $7,000 to $9,000 each per month.

The City Plan Commission recommended approval to the Common Council of a zoning change to accommodate the office building’s development. The four 3,700-square-foot townhomes could be built within the existing site zoning.

But plan commission members and area Alderman Nik Kovac expressed difficulty in separating the approval of the office building from the townhomes.

“I would argue this is a whole package and you have to look at the whole thing,” said commission chair Stephanie Bloomingdale.

Two nearby residents expressed frustration with a plan for each house to have its own driveway and two-car garage, as the driveways eliminate all street parking on that stretch.

“Right now there is 100% usage of street parking all the time,” said area resident Matthew Hughes. “Definitely having 200 feet of street parking removed for eight cars is a little much. I think there could be some common access.”

Lena Scheibengraber, who lives with Hughes in the Flatiron Condominiums on the other side of the street, said she would like to see a single garage entry point similar to her building.

Delaney and representatives from architecture firm Design Manage Advise (DMA) said at the hearing and a May 10th community meeting that the driveways are a necessity given that space along the alley would be used for surface parking for the office workers. The slope of the site, with the alley a level above the street, also presents a challenge.

But the configuration also allows Delaney to have a full backyard, something he says other tenants will value.

“We will definitely be offering a competitive rental product with more to it at that price range,” said Delaney of the townhomes’ size and amenity even with a $7,000 to $9,000 per month rental price.

“I do not love four consecutive curb cuts from both the perspective of pedestrian safety and removing parking,” said Kovac. “Having said that, I worked them over pretty good on that.”

Delaney and Jordan Nelson of DMA praised Department of City Development (DCD) planner Greg Patin for helping reconfigure the driveways to break up the massing and add planters.

“I will say I’m not thrilled about it, but our zoning code allows it,” said Kovac. He said he has had discussions with DCD about revising the code.

The commission and community members had few concerns about the actual item before them, the office building.

“Basically we’re a bunch of computer nerds,” said Delaney of the estimated 12 employees who would occupy the 10,200-square-foot building. “We’re on the computer selling products online every day.”

The three-story building would be built at the corner of N. Jefferson St. and E. Pleasant St. Delaney’s umbrella firm SnackTime Capital would occupy the building as well as his cannabidiol company, FABCBD. Both are currently based in St. Francis.

The entrepreneur sold 80% of FABCBD for $20.6 million in May, but continues to work for the company and its new parent, Canada-based High Tide Inc.

A large rooftop deck would be available for employees. Shipping of products would continue to take place at a warehouse in New Berlin.

It was recommended by plan commission members that the office building not use a loading zone on the street to allow for more on-street parking.

Community member Larry Hoffman, a member of the City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity, called for green energy improvements to the buildings.

“It looks like there is lots of room on the roof for solar panels and perhaps they’ll be shown in future renderings,” he said.

“We are still looking at that,” said Nelson.

An existing two-story, commercial building would be demolished to create the development site. The 8,880-square-foot building was last used as a day-care center and has been vacant since at least 2016.

“You might have to have people come and get the bricks because I know thousands of people that have gone to that day care including my daughter,” said commissioner Catrina Crane.

“I think that it is a really handsome project that you have,” said Bloomingdale.

The commission unanimously endorsed the proposal, with new commissioner Tarik Moody excused from the entire meeting.

The Common Council will next review the proposal.

Renderings

Site Photos

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One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Plan Commission Okays East Side Project”

  1. tornado75 says:

    ahh, just what we need—–more luxury homes, condos, town houses etc.

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