New Land Enterprises is keeping itself busy with new construction projects.
Its latest to break ground could be the nine-story, 251-unit Nova apartments, at 1237 N. Van Buren St. near downtown Milwaukee.
Tim Gokhman, managing director of Milwaukee-based New Land, said the project is extremely time critical if it's to be ready in time for "leasing season."
The apartment complex should take around 22 months to build, he said, meaning New Land would need to break ground mid-summer in order for the units to be ready for tenants in April or May 2023.
"You always want to deliver in spring, when leasing season starts, because we don't have a full year of leasing season," he said. "And so, working backwards, if we're looking at a 21-, 22-month schedule, we absolutely want to start by July otherwise we miss leasing season and that has disastrous effects for a variety of reasons."
It will be built on an L-shaped site where the former Buca di Beppo restaurant now stands. Existing buildings on the site will be razed.
In addition to the apartments, there will be eight townhouses with private entrances along Van Buren Street, said Jason Korb, principal of Milwaukee-based project architect Korb + Associates.
Also proposed is a 300-stall parking structure with a third-floor outdoor pool deck. There will be a two-story retail space at the northwest corner of East Juneau Avenue and North Van Buren Street, which could become a café or coffee shop.
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The project secured an initial approval from the City Plan Commission on Monday afternoon. It will need ultimate approval by the Common Council before New Land can pull permits and mobilize contractors.
The Nova project team shared some other details during Monday's meeting.
Gokhman pointed out the project was once planned to be only eight stories and 220 units.
"The reason why we added one floor is we finally realized what the optimal scale of this building is," he said, noting there is a 'golden ratio' of the number of units and scale of building at which point a pool and other amenities become feasible.
Gokhman said Nova would have a density of greater than 200 dwelling units per acre. This density is unusual for Milwaukee but more common in other Midwestern cities like St. Louis or Cleveland, he said.
New Land also discussed with Department of City Development staff about making some of its units affordable, but ultimately decided against it because it wasn't feasible for the project budget.
There will be a variety of apartment unit types, including one bedroom, one bedroom with den, two bedrooms with one or two bathrooms, two bedrooms with den and three bedrooms.
Rental rates will start just below $1,400 per month and get up to just over $2,000 per month, Gokhman said.
The townhouses proved to be a sticking point between city staff and the project team.
Korb noted what the team presented to the Plan Commission was around the fifth version of the townhouses it came up with after negotiating with DCD.
The parties worked to balance privacy of the residents with the look the townhouses provided pedestrians walking by.
The compromise was to lower the outer masonry walls and add fencing above it. This kept the residential porches mostly private while not completely walling off the units from the street.
If approvals are met and New Land breaks ground as anticipated, it will be less than a year since the firm broke ground on its largest project yet. Construction commenced on the 25-story, 259-unit Ascent mass timber tower around the start of September. It is going up at 700 E. Kilbourn Ave., just a few blocks south of Nova.
Gokhman also noted yesterday that construction should begin soon on Element, a 66-unit apartment complex his firm is developing in Walker's Point.