Apartment tower project planned for Goll Mansion site

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A Madison-based developer is interested in purchasing the Goll Mansion and moving the 117-year-old East Side landmark closer to Prospect Avenue in order to construct a 17-story apartment building on the site overlooking Lake Michigan.

Brothers Chris and Jeff Houden, of Palisade Property, are working with Milwaukee architectural firm Kahler Slater on the project.  Chris and Jeff Houden could not be reached for comment.

Alderman Robert Bauman, whose district includes the Goll Mansion site at 1550 N. Prospect Ave., said he was approached by Kahler Slater CEO George Meyer about the feasibility of the project. Meyer could not be reached for comment.

Bauman said if this project moves forward it will face substantial opposition from the residents living next to the mansion at 1522 Prospect Ave. and others.

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He said the plans would have to go before the city’s Plan Commission, Common Council and the Historic Preservation Commission.

“Right now it’s just talk, no closing,” Bauman said. “We’re talking next summer at least. It’s a year away from closing.”

Jeff Fleming, spokesman for the city’s Department of City Development, said there have been ongoing discussions with the people involved in the Goll Mansion project but there is nothing to share at this point.

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Bill Nasgovitz, chairman of Heartland Funds, purchased the 9,000-square-foot mansion in 2012 from Associated Bank for $835,000. When contacted Thursday morning, he said he was still the owner of the property and any conversations of a sale were premature.

“We’ll see what happens,” Nasgovitz said. “It may happen, it may not.”  

The property was previously owned by New Land Enterprises LLP, which received Common Council approval in 2008 to build a 26-story, 35-unit condo tower that would have been attached to the Goll Mansion.

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Bauman said the Common Council approval from 2008 would have to be revisited because what the Madison developers are proposing is very different.

The 2008 project was controversial and opposed by some historic preservationists who said it would damage the historic integrity of the property and by some nearby condo residents who complained that the New Land tower would block their views.

When the downtown Milwaukee condo market collapsed during the Great Recession, New Land did not move forward with its plans for a condo tower and the property was seized by Associated Bank.

The residential real estate market is better now than when New Land’s plans to develop the Goll property died; however, as of today, Bauman said he does not have much faith this project will move forward.

“There will be substantial opposition,” he said. “I don’t know if a 17-story building is too large or too small. Plus, moving a building is pretty substantial.”

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