Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Car-Lite East Side Building Wins Approval

Modern building would embody urbanism principles of those built 100 years before it.

By - Jul 8th, 2022 11:40 am
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.

The developers of a car-lite apartment building for Milwaukee’s East Side have secured the necessary design approvals to construct the building.

In recent weeks, developer Ryan Pattee and real estate agent Shar Borg secured formal support from both the East Side Architectural Review Board and Board of Zoning Appeals to develop a four-story, 53-unit building on the 1500 block of E. North Ave. between N. Newhall St. and N. Cambridge Ave. It would include two first-floor commercial spaces, with one tenant already secured.

“We’re trying to help small households thrive without having to own cars, or at least own fewer of them,” said Pattee in an April interview. The building, located between a McDonald’s and UW-Milwaukee residence hall, 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?” Borg said, referencing the estimated $9,500 annual cost of vehicle ownership.

The developers plan to have only 20 on-site stalls. Not building an underground parking structure would reduce the development cost, which would allow for cheaper rents. Borg told the zoning appeals board on June 30 that it is a $15 million project.

“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 in April.

Only eight spaces are included in the building and another 12 are located outside along a rear alley. Residents could also take advantage of time-shared spaces at nearby properties. The developers plan to offer two rentable Teslas for errands or other hourly uses and emphasize the potential of walking, biking, Bublr Bikes and the nearby Milwaukee County Transit System bus routes.

Two commercial spaces would be included in the building. At the southeast corner, a 5,028-square-foot space is designed for an undisclosed financial institution (labeled as “credit union” in building plans with the color scheme and mock logo mirroring that of UW Credit Union) and would, ironically for a car-lite building, include two drive-through lanes. The lanes and the parking lot would be located on the north side of the building, shielded from E. North Ave.

The second space is a 3,763-square-foot stall at the southwest corner of the building. It would include an outdoor seating area created from a setback in the building. It is designed for a restaurant or cafe but could be used by any commercial tenant, according to a project narrative.

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

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.

In March, with the backing of other investors, the partners acquired the one-story building at 1530 E. North Ave. from Rick Walia for $1.2 million. The building was long occupied by RC’s Beer Garden, which officially closed in 2018 after decades in business.

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.

The Common Council already approved a request to merge the properties into one site.

It is the first development project for Borg and a sizable increase from the rehabilitation projects Pattee has often handled. Borg, in April, credited a then-undisclosed mentor. “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 individual was later revealed to be Mandel executive Robert Monnat.

The Pattee-Borg project is one of five apartment developments proposed along North Avenue between Interstate 43 and Lake Michigan. Kendall Breunig is planning to redevelop a former dairy complex at 1617-1633 E. North Ave. into 17 apartments. FIT Investment Group and Cinnaire Solutions were selected in April 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.

The area business improvement district sent a letter of support for the Pattee-Borg development and for creating a tax incremental financing district funded in part by increased property tax revenue from the project that would fund streetscape improvements along E. North Ave.



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