Downsized Bay View apartment project still faces opposition

Rendering by Rinka of Scott Lurie's revised Bay View development proposal.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:48 pm

Changes made to a proposed mixed-use development in Bay View have not won the support of the elected official who represents the area.

Developer Scott Lurie has plans to build new apartments and retail space along Kinnickinnic Avenue. He has tapped Milwaukee architectural firm Rinka to design the project. The plans have been tweaked from what was initially introduced this fall. The changes would, among other things, shorten the buildings and reduce the number of proposed apartments.

Alderman Tony Zielinski, whose district includes the proposed project site, said in an interview with BizTimes that a majority of his constituents still oppose the plans, even after seeing the changes.

“The plan presented last night as modified is not something I could support,” he said.

The original proposal, first unveiled at a community meeting in October, called for approximately 220 to 230 residential units and 27,000 square feet of retail space. The develop would stretch over 10 parcels in the 2700 blocks of Kinnickinnic Avenue and Herman Street, which currently include several houses and the former Bella’s Fat Cat building at 2737 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

The new plans would reduce the density of the apartment units by approximately 10 percent, which comes out to about 200 units. The height of the buildings would decrease with the removal of the sixth floors. The tallest height of the project would be reduced by more than 20 feet, according to an email from the architect.

Also in the modified plans is an increased green buffer between the development and the single-family home on the west side of South Herman Street, as well as increased setbacks of the development’s residential levels from the nearby homes to the south where feasible.

The plans still call for enough parking for all apartment dwellers, as required by current zoning on the project site.

Even with the proposed downsizing, the project would need city officials to approve a zoning change to allow that number of apartments on that site. Zielinski said any change in zoning has to make sense for the neighborhood.

“Based on feedback from my constituents this doesn’t warrant that change,” he said.

Zielinski added he isn’t worried about the future of the site if this development ultimately falls through.

“Bay View is hot,” he said. “We’ve got one of the best communities in the city of Milwaukee. We don’t have to be beggars.”

Zielinski said he planned to meet with the project team on Thursday to discuss the plans further. The way he sees it, they have three options: Move forward with the plans as-is and attempt to secure needed approvals from the Common Council without his support; scrap the project entirely; or work out something “more suitable.”

Lurie could not immediately be reached for comment.

If the Bay View project does move forward it would join several other recent multifamily developments in the neighborhood. This includes the 291-unit Stitchweld at 2141 S. Robinson Ave. and Vue at the former Faust Music store site at 2204 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.

New Land Enterprises LLP is also building a $21 million mixed-use development at the corner of South Kinnickinnic Avenue and East Bay Street, where the former Hamburger Mary’s restaurant building was located. And developer Scott Genke plans to develop an apartment building at the site of the American Legion Post at 2860 S, Kinnickinnic Ave.

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Alex Zank
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.