Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Market-Rate Apartments Planned Near 76th and Brown Deer

Sycamore Place owners hope to fill what they say is a void on Northwest Side.

By - Sep 6th, 2023 04:10 pm
8460 N. 76th St. development site adjacent to Sycamore Place. Image from RINKA.

8460 N. 76th St. development site adjacent to Sycamore Place. Image from RINKA.

A new market-rate apartment complex is planned for the city’s Northwest Side, with the idea that it will compete for residents who would otherwise move to Downtown or the suburbs.

The proposal follows the success Florida-based AB Asset Management has seen in rehabilitating the adjacent senior-focused Trinity Village into Sycamore Place, a 322-unit complex at 7500 W. Dean Rd. that is immediately south of the proposed development.

“We think the Northwest Side is prime for new development and market-rate apartments,” said Michael D’Amato, a lobbyist and former alderman who serves as the project’s owner representative, to members of the Granville Advisory Committee Wednesday morning.

The new, two-building complex would replace a former farm along N. 76th St., less than a half mile south of W. Brown Deer Rd. and the former Northridge Mall. It would have approximately 220 units and 330 parking spaces. Nearly 60% of the apartments would have a one-bedroom layout, with a third having a two-bedroom layout and 7% having a three-bedroom floor plan.

“What we hope to do here is fill a void that is currently being filled by Brown Deer, Menomonee Falls and elsewhere,” said D’Amato. “The Northwest Side is being discovered as a great place to live with a lot of open space and the ability to have services nearby.”

“We envision a landmark project,” said RINKA senior design director QianQian Liu. No designs were shown, but a site plan depicts two U-shaped four-story buildings with interior courtyards that would face each other. “Our idea is to really create a vibrant and high-end neighborhood for residents and the community.”

Rental rates at the complex would be targeted at approximately $2 per square foot, meaning a 1,000-square-foot apartment would cost $2,000 per month. D’Amato said it’s a rate that is lower than new construction Downtown and in several suburban communities.

The firm is pursuing a zoning change to the RM-6 designation for the approximately four-acre site from a lower-density designation to enable the development. It’s the second zoning change the company has pursued in as many years, following a 2022 change that allowed it to rehabilitate, reposition and rebrand what was Trinity Village.

Alderwoman Larresa Taylor endorsed the change during Wednesday’s advisory committee meeting, and also the firm’s work to rehabilitate the existing complex. She said the latest proposal is for a unit count lower than what the zoning designation would allow. “You guys have the option of building more apartments, but you chose not to for the benefit of the community,” said Taylor, who was elected after the 2022 zoning change.

The development firm representatives said they explored a proposal with twice as many units, but scaled it back for a number of reasons.

AB purchased Trinity Village in 2021 for $25.1 million. In December 2022, the firm secured zoning approval to convert 226 assisted and senior living units into all-ages, market-rate housing. On the east side of the building, 96 units remain leased to individuals age 55 or older, and an 87-bed skilled nursing facility remains on the west side. Locked doors separate the three areas on what is otherwise one continuous structure.

The investment group has overhauled the common areas and converted a large dining room into a gym and amenity room. Firm partner Getzy Fellig said the company has added 99 security cameras, a smartphone-controlled Butterfly access system and hundreds of wayfinding signs to make the complex more comfortable for residents and guests. It’s also adding more tenant programming, including dinners, art events and other functions. “We are committing tens of thousands [of dollars] to these types of programs,” said Fellig.

AB is also rehabilitating the apartments. “We are continuing to repair units as they are available,” said Fellig of the ongoing process.

The complex was previously 40% occupied, according to November statements by D’Amato to the City Plan Commission. It’s reached 72% now. “We believe at year’s end we will be at full occupancy,” said Fellig. “And that’s really huge given the amount of time we have been at this. In the world of development, it’s not a long time.”

“Our initial investment has proven that we can create a successful multi-generational community on Milwaukee’s Northwest Side without subsidy or public assistance,” said AB in a statement issued after the meeting. “This is great news for the City of Milwaukee and developers investing in the city. We are bullish on Granville.”

A June market study, prepared by Elm Grove-based Moegenburg Research, Inc., says “there are strong indicators that there is sufficient demand for a substantial number of new [market-rate] rental units” and that the demand is expected to grow among non-seniors in the next five years.

A series of disused structures, including a greenhouse, currently occupy the proposed development site, 8460-8470 N. 76th St. Once known as Woodside Acres Market and part of a farm, the remaining buildings have been vacant for several years after the market’s founders, the Ebert family, sold the property in 2015. AB acquired it as part of acquiring Trinity Village. An adjacent vacant house, 8482 N. 76th Pl., is also part of the rectangular site.

The housing complex, one large building with several wings, was initially known as Friendship Village when it was developed in 1973 by a group of religious nonprofit groups. It was expanded several times and ultimately came to be owned by a predecessor of Advocate Aurora Health Care until being sold in 2004.

The committee unanimously endorsed the zoning change, which is still subject to Common Council approval.

Sycamore Place Renderings and Photos

76th Street Development Site

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