John “Johnny V” Vassallo says he's moving forward with his proposal to develop a 25-story apartment tower at Bluemound and Mayfair roads in Wauwatosa despite its rejection by the city's Plan Commission.
He said he'll bring his request to another committee and the full Common Council in January, without proposing any revisions to the project.
Vassallo is the owner of Mo’s Restaurants and also heads up the investors group, POG Kosmos Acquisitions LP, that is proposing the apartment tower at the site of the former Edwardo's restaurant southwest of the busy intersection. The $50 million project would include 354 high-end residential units, indoor parking and 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.
It was voted down in November by the Plan Commission. But, the project is still tentatively scheduled for consideration by the Community Affairs Committee on Jan. 12 and the Common Council on Jan. 19. It can still be considered for approval by council members without the recommendation of the Plan Commission.
In the meantime, the long-vacant Edwardo's building has been demolished. The demolition work was carried out on Monday..
"We’re still going through the process and we still believe we have a spectacular product for that corner," Vassallo said.
Some Wauwatosa residents that oppose the project say they are chiefly concerned with traffic and the sheer size of the building. It is proposed to be 300 feet tall.
Vassallo said it's up to him to better communicate with the community about the project to quell worries on those issues. But, he said, the project does not require modifications.
Vassallo said the anticipated added traffic from the apartment project would actually be less than something like a gas station or a fast food restaurant. A project consultant estimated the development would generate 1,710 new vehicle trips and 140 pass-by trips on a typical weekday.
The retail space in the building would likely be a shop selling baked goods, sandwiches and coffee, he said. It is intended to primarily serve residents and thus would not add as much traffic as a comparable retailer, according to project documents.
Vassallo said the team also conducted a study on the shadow the building would cast throughout the day. He said a lot of the shade hits other properties he also owns on that block, along with the Mo's Irish Pub he owns across the street. It also would hit the 10 lanes of traffic in front of the building. But it would not really affect nearby residences, he said.
"The impact from what we could see from the shadow study seemed like it was in our favor," he said.
If the project fails to obtain city approval, Vassallo said he could easily opt to develop something purely retail there. He said he's had talks in the past about the site with McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, Culvers and others. But he's generally pushed back at the retail option, due to the prominence of the corner, he said.
Vassallo first detailed his plans for the project in August.