350-unit apartment tower planned in Wauwatosa

$50 million project would be up to 23 stories tall

Rendering: Kahler Slater
Rendering: Kahler Slater

Last updated on August 19th, 2020 at 02:59 pm

An investors group led by Mo’s Restaurants owner John “Johnny V” Vassallo is putting forward plans to develop a $50 million, 350-unit luxury apartment tower at Bluemound and Mayfair roads in Wauwatosa.

The building would stand between 19 and 23 stories tall, and would go up at the site of the former Edwardo’s restaurant at the southwest corner of West Bluemound and North Mayfair roads, Vassallo said in an interview.

Plans include parking on the building’s first six stories. The floor above that will feature some apartment units plus amenities such as a dog run, a pool, outdoor kitchen, fitness center, golf simulator and theater. Other on-site amenities include valet service, package delivery room and grocery delivery to individual units, added Vassallo.

The remaining residential units will be on the floors above.

The investors group pursuing the project also includes former Milwaukee Bucks player Steve Novak, along with various other Milwaukee-area professionals, Vassallo said. The group will partner with Milwaukee-based developer HKS Holdings LLC on the project, he said. HKS’ most recently completed project is the Renaissance hotel at the Mayfair Mall campus, which opened just last week.

A neighborhood meeting for the apartment tower project is scheduled for Thursday evening at Mo’s Irish Pub, which is located across the street from the development site at 10842 W. Bluemound Road.

The project then needs approval from the city. Vassallo said the current zoning allows for multi-family, but additional approval is needed for the proposed density. Assuming the zoning variance is approved, the development team would then need to finalize design plans for additional approval.

Vassallo said he’s aiming to begin construction next spring, with a target opening date of 2023.

An affiliate of Milwaukee-based Mo’s Restaurants has been buying up properties at this block since 2016. The Edwardo’s Pizza building, at 10845 W. Bluemound Road, was the first. It was acquired in July 2016.

Vassallo said the project team has done some master planning for the entire block, with potential uses including multi-family and commercial. But it could be another decade before all of the sites have been acquired, he said. This is one of the reasons the group is putting forward the high-rise now.

“We came to realize, we don’t need to do it all at once,” he said.

Plus, the timing is right, Vassallo said, noting interest rates are low, the lending market is favorable to multi-family projects, construction costs are “moderate” and rental rates are good.

“This corner and this building can stand alone if we don’t develop anything else in this area,” he said. “This building can stand on its own, and it’s unique timing.”

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Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.

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