Mandel planning 315-unit multi-family development at Oconomowoc’s Pabst Farms

Developer requesting rezoning of 34-acre site

A rendering depicting the proposed townhouse buildings.
A rendering depicting the proposed townhouse buildings. (Rendering: BSB Design Inc.)

Last updated on August 13th, 2019 at 04:25 pm

Mandel Group is seeking initial approvals for a proposed 315-unit multi-family development in Oconomowoc’s Pabst Farms community.

The Milwaukee-based developer would construct 25 residential building across a roughly 34-acre site north of the Valley Road and Gold Medal Drive intersection, just west of Summit Elementary School, according to conceptual plans filed with the city.

The proposal includes 289 apartment units with one to three bedrooms and 26 townhouses with two or three bedrooms. Also included would be 638 total parking spaces, 371 of which would be on surface lots with the rest in garages.

A 4,000-square-foot clubhouse would be located toward the southern end of the site. It would include leasing and maintenance offices, a fitness center, a clubroom with gourmet-style kitchen and dining room. Behind the clubhouse would be an outdoor pool and green space.

In a July 9 letter to the city, Mandel senior development associate Emily Cialdini and vice president of development Ian Martin note that a third-party market study found “there is sufficient demand for a luxury multi-family development” in the area.

“Apartment market fundamentals in the submarket are strong,” the letter states. “Competitive communities boast strong occupancy rates and see continued rent growth.”

Mandel did not respond to a request for comment.

A public hearing for the project is scheduled during Wednesday’s plan commission meeting. Mandel is seeking a change to the city’s comprehensive land-use plan and a rezoning of the site to allow for the development of the apartments.

Assuming city leaders eventually approve the land-use and zoning changes, Mandel would still need approval on a number of other items. These include a certified survey map, developer’s agreement, site plans and architectural plans, according to a city staff report.

A different developer asked the city to rezone the northern portion of the site for business park uses and the southern half for high-density residential use, the same zoning classification that Mandel is now seeking for the entire site, according to the city report.

The common council approved the business-park rezoning request but did not sign off multi-family zoning. This was because of concerns related to public infrastructure and the fact the site was next door to the school. Additionally, the developer was not proposing a specific number of units that would be built there.

Even so, city staffers note in their report that they support the current rezoning request. They argue Mandel’s project differs from the 2017 proposal for a number of reasons, including the fact the developer clearly states the number of units they’re looking to build. They also site Mandel’s “well-established reputation of constructing and maintaining apartment projects.”

Staffers further argue in their report that the area is in need of more residents to support nearby businesses and more commercial development.

“For years, the biggest complaints the city is hearing is there are not enough rooftops in the nearby area to support businesses who are interested in developing in the Pabst Farms area,” the report states. It later adds, “Many times, the city has heard businesses in the area cannot find workers. Additional apartments in the housing stock will provide housing supply for workers.”

Mandel notes in its letter to the city it intends to hold a neighborhood meeting to get feedback from residents, businesses and the elementary school.

Roger Rindo, superintendent of the Oconomowoc Area School District, which runs Summit Elementary, said in an emailed statement the district is in a good position to handle a potential increase in students that the apartments might bring.

“Students from existing subdivisions who attend Summit Elementary will be aging into intermediate school during the build-out of these developments, so that should alleviate pressure on the Summit Elementary capacity,” he said. “We do continue to watch other potential developments as well. The District is in a really good position, and it’s a great time to be in Oconomowoc.”

Pabst Farms is a 1,500-acre community located on former farmland in Oconomowoc. It includes residential neighborhoods, upscale retail and commercial parks.

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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.