Mandel Group scales back plans for River Hills housing proposal

Project first introduced in fall 2016

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Mandel Group has submitted scaled back plans for the first multi-family housing project in River Hills, 18 months after village residents balked at its original proposal.

Rendering by HGA.

The Farm at River Hills, a project planned for a site between Brown Deer, West Greenbrook and North Spruce roads, would be the first of its kind in the upscale north shore community of 1,600 people known for its sprawling homes built on 5-acre lots. Mandel has had an option to purchase the Eder farm at 1820 W. Brown Deer Road, since 2016.

The original $75 million proposal called for a 400-unit housing development that included 204 high-end apartments, two senior living facilities and a 9-acre organic farm.

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In November 2016, Mandel Group held a public forum where more than 150 River Hills residents packed an auditorium at Cardinal Stritch College and raised concerns about the project ranging from traffic along Brown Deer Road to the types of people who live in apartments.

Rendering by HGA.

Mandel apartments typically rent for more than $1,500 a month.

Over the last 18 months, Mandel Group has worked on the proposal to incorporate input from the community, reducing the density of the project and increasing the amount of green space.

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The senior living component has been removed from the project. During the 2016 meeting, some residents said they were worried about the types of employees who would be working at the senior living facilities.

The Farm at River Hills now consists of just 154 one, two and three-bedroom apartments in five three-story buildings. Each unit would have two underground heated and cooled parking stalls.

The residential buildings would be built about 500 feet from West Greenbrook Road.

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A 4,000-square-foot clubhouse that will include the leasing center, workout room and lap pool is also planned.

Walking trails, wetland boardwalks and a wildlife habitat would be included in the landscaping, according to plans submitted to the village.

Mandel Group has done several suburban apartment developments targeting baby boomers who are looking for more flexibility, less maintenance and a desire to remain in their communities.

The success of Mandel’s Beaumont Place in Whitefish Bay, which was 100 percent leased before it was built, was one of the reasons the firm wanted to build in River Hills originally. The average age of people leasing apartments in Beaumont Place was 59.

All of the proposed River Hills buildings are being designed by Jim Shields, an architect with HGA who designed the Milwaukee Art Museum Expansion project, Mandel’s Beaumont Place and the Harley-Davidson Museum.

Mandel Group has been hosting twice weekly community meetings since June and will continue to do so through July to present and discuss the updated Farm development to River Hills residents.

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