The city of Oak Creek and Milwaukee-based F Street Group are looking to turn 35 acres of land near Lake Michigan into a dense residential neighborhood unprecedented for the city and believed to be the first of its kind in the Great Lakes region.
Called Lakeshore Commons, the project includes 648 housing units, split evenly between single-family homes and apartment units, said Scott Lurie, founder and president of F Street.
There will be about a dozen home designs, ranging in size from about 1,500 to a bit over 3,000 square feet with prices starting in the range of $300,000, Lurie said. Apartments will be market rate.
The development site is located adjacent to the city’s Lake Vista Park, north of Bender Park and east of South Fifth Avenue, along Oak Creek’s Lake Michigan shoreline. The site was formerly used for heavy industrial purposes by companies such as Newport Chemical Co., DuPont and EPEC Polymers, Vickers aid. The city acquired the land and several years ago and began to clean it up.
The development is unique to Oak Creek due to its small lot sizes, neighborhood amenities and its walkability. The density of the development is similar to a traditional city neighborhood.
The project is also the culmination of a years-old effort by Oak Creek to clean up and redevelop a swath of lakefront land formerly used for industrial purposes.
"When we sought out at this juncture 18 months ago, we wanted to build a community, we wanted it to be accessible (and) amenity rich, and we wanted to complement the Lake Vista Park as well as Lake Michigan," Lurie said.
Last week, the Oak Creek Common Council accepted an offer from an affiliate of F Street to acquire the development site. The project team formally unveiled the project at tonight's Plan Commission meeting.
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"This is really what I call a destination residential development," Andrew Vickers, Oak Creek city administrator, said. "You don't hear a lot about destination residential, but when you look through the lens of you can only find this here in Lakeshore Commons, that's exactly what it will turn out to be."
Lurie said the neighborhood would appeal to a variety of prospective homebuyers and renters, including first-time buyers.
Even so, the project stresses affordability. Vickers said it will give opportunity to those wanting to live along Lake Michigan but can't afford a $900,000-plus lakefront home. They'll also be at a lower price point than new homes in a more "traditional" new subdivision in Oak Creek, which typically go for $425,000, he said.
Lurie said the homes will be able to be offered at the lower price point because of the neighborhood's proposed density. The smaller lots allow for more dwellings, which in turn help spread out the cost of new infrastructure and related expenses.
In conceptualizing the neighborhood, F Street worked with Milwaukee-based design firm Rinka.
And though the proposal may be unique to the area, it isn't unprecedented. Lurie said that F Street and Rinka took inspiration from other places such as the Central Park (formerly Stapleton) neighborhood in Denver and Celebration, Florida.
Perhaps the neighborhood's most notable amenity will be its direct access to Lake Vista Park and the lakefront, along with its connectedness to the nearby Bender Park and Oak Leaf recreational trail.
Other planned amenities include a clubhouse, a fitness center, an outdoor pool, walking trails and basketball courts.
Vickers said city staff and F Street are working out the terms of a pending development agreement, which he imagined will be brought to the Common Council for approval in January or February.
Lurie said he anticipates commencing construction sometime mid-2021.