Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

New Apartment Project Not About Cars

Four-story, 53-unit apartment building planned for E. North Ave. has just 18 on-site parking spots.

By - Apr 20th, 2022 03:38 pm
Proposed building for 1500 block of E. North Ave. Rendering by Engberg Anderson Architects.

Proposed building for 1500 block of E. North Ave. Rendering by Engberg Anderson Architects.

A four-story, 53-unit apartment building would replace a string of mostly-vacant buildings on the 1500 block of E. North Ave. under a proposal from developer Ryan Pattee and real estate agent Shar Borg.

Unlike many new apartment buildings, the new building would cater to residents that don’t own a car.

“We’re trying to help small households thrive without having to own cars, or at least own fewer of them,” said Pattee in an interview. The building would have a mix of one-bedroom and studio apartments.

“If you are spending $1,000 a month on rent, do you want to be spending almost that much on your car?” said Borg, referencing the estimated $9,500 annual cost of vehicle ownership.

The developers plan to have only 18 on-site stalls. Not building an underground parking structure will reduce the development cost, which would allow for cheaper rents.

“We really wanted to keep the price of the units down, so the best way to do that was not to spend $50,000 per space on underground parking,” said Borg. Besides the 18 on-site stalls, there would be 20 in a neighboring location for use by a commercial tenant of the proposed complex.

Residents would be able to rent two building-owned Tesla vehicles for errands or other hourly uses. Borg described the model as similar to ZipCar or Turo. Pattee said residents would be able to take advantage of nearby bus lines, Bublr Bikes stations and rentable ZipCars.

“All in all, this will be a perfect fit for young, urban-oriented renters looking for a great value,” said Pattee. That doesn’t mean college students, Borg noted, but a growing class of young professionals who like city living.

The partners, through an investment group, would acquire and demolish all the buildings between UW-Milwaukee’s Cambridge Commons residence hall and McDonald’s restaurant on the north side of the 1500 block of east North Ave. If necessary approvals are granted, demolition could begin later this summer or fall.

Approximately 8,700 square feet of commercial space would be included on the building’s first floor. The southwestern corner of the building, at N. Cambridge Ave., would be occupied by a restaurant. The space to the east would be occupied by a financial institution, which would have 20 parking spaces reserved in an adjacent property. Borg declined to name the prospective tenants.

Engberg Anderson Architects is working on the building’s design. Greenfire Management Services would serve as the general contractor.

A certified survey map request is pending before the Common Council. The survey is required to legally combine lots. The project is expected to also require approval from the Board of Zoning Appeals and the East Side Architectural Review Board, the latter of which could first review the project in the coming month.

An affiliate of the Pattee Group acquired the two-story building at 1504 E. North Ave. in June for $425,000 from Yosef Goldstein. The building was last occupied by Buddha Lounge.

Borg said Pattee reached out about the potential for just that site. “I thought, ‘oh my goodness, why has no one developed this block?'” she said. The vision grew.

In March, with the backing of other investors, the partners acquired the one-story building at 1530 E. North Ave. long occupied by RC’s Beer Garden from Rick Walia for $1.2 million.

The investment group has a contract to purchase the two-story warehouse complex in the middle of the block from an affiliate of the Mandel Group. Addressed as 1518 E. North Ave., it was formerly used by Hometown Oil, but has been vacant for more than a decade.

None of the buildings are locally historically protected.

“We just feel it’s going to be a catalytic development,” said Borg.

It is the first development project for Borg and a sizable increase from the rehabilitation projects Pattee has often handled. Borg credited an undisclosed real estate mentor with guiding them. “It’s amazing and refreshing how many experienced developers have come alongside and encouraged us on this and been really helpful,” she said. “Our mentor is out of this world.”

The proposal is one of two apartment projects planned for the quarter-mile stretch of E. North Ave. between the Milwaukee River and N. Oakland Ave. Kendall Breunig is planning to redevelop a former dairy complex at 1617-1633 E. North Ave. into 17 apartments.

The Pattee-Borg project is one of four new apartments buildings proposed along North Avenue between Interstate 43 and Lake Michigan. FIT Investment Group and Cinnaire Solutions were selected Monday as the winning bidder for a city-owned site at N. 6th St. and W. North Ave., and plan to develop a 54-unit building. KG Development and General Capital Group are poised to start construction this year on the 91-unit Riverwest Workforce Apartments and Food Accelerator at 1136 E. North Ave. Closest to the lake, developer Brian Wagner is proposing to build a seven-story, 90-unit building, but that project still needs a zoning change and currently faces a historic preservation challenge.



3 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: New Apartment Project Not About Cars”

  1. RetiredResident says:

    Then the rental agreement should stipulate the tenant will not procure a vehicle. Probably unenforceable legally.

  2. Polaris says:

    My last condo in San Francisco before moving back to the Midwest provided 1 parking spot for 2-bedroom units and no parking spot for 1-bedroom units. I had a 1-bedroom and a car, which I parked offsite a couple blocks away. When that location closed and my monthly parking cost was going to increase from $250 to $400+ per month, I decided I didn’t use the car enough to keep it. (I was car(-free and carefree for eight years until last year, when I bought one to better care for aging parents and my COVID pup.)

    All that said, it’s definitely a lifestyle choice, made easier by convenient alternatives. I’d like to encourage more people living and working in areas with high walkability scores and good mass transit to consider it!

  3. kaygeeret says:

    What an interesting idea.

    Many years ago, a friend moved to CHI and promptly sold his car. It was cheaper to rent a car to visit family and friend in MKE than own and he took public transit or cabs everywhere. This was in the 1960-80’s, so VERY long ago, but the idea is still valid.

    I love that there will be a couple of cars for short term rental.

    I hope this works.

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