Panel endorses revised Goll Mansion apartment tower proposal

$55 million project heads to ZND next month

Rendering of the apartment tower planned at the Goll Mansion site. This project never moved forward and the site is now listed for sale.
Rendering of the apartment tower planned at the Goll Mansion site. This project never moved forward and the site is now listed for sale.

A 27-story apartment tower planned behind the Goll Mansion on Milwaukee’s East Side received the endorsement of the city’s Plan Commission Monday, despite neighbors’ continued objections.

The controversial $55 million project by Chris Houden, the Madison-based developer and the owner of the property, to move the 118-year-old mansion at 1150 N. Prospect Ave. toward the street to make room for the residential tower has been in the works for more than a year.

“We are thankful for the commission’s review and the broad support we’ve received from the community,” Houden said after the meeting. “We share their perspective that the proposed development will be a great addition to the East Side neighborhood, and the city of Milwaukee.”

The Plan Commission deadlocked with a 3-3 vote on the project in 2016. However, the project was praised by the panel Monday for its design and green features.

After more than an hour of testimony, plan commission members voted 4-1 in favor of the project, with Commissioner J. Allen Stokes voting against it.

“The plan is part of the natural evolution of Prospect Avenue,” said commissioner Whitney Gould. “This building is a creative solution to the dilemma facing the city. These mansions are not going to survive unless they find a way to make them financially viable.”

Last summer, Houden’s proposal was unanimously approved at the city’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee and won approval from the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.

More than half the Common Council voted in favor of the proposal, but the plan was ultimately defeated because it did not receive a supermajority, which was needed because residents of the 1522 Prospect On the Lake condo building submitted a protest petition.

Houden and architect Kahler Slater resubmitted plans in July for the project, reducing the size of the tower in the east/west direction by 10 feet and moving the tower’s footprint further from the bluff.

Slight design changes and several aesthetic changes were also made.

Protesters, many who live in 1522 Prospect Ave., said Monday they are worried about the increased traffic, structural integrity of their own homes, and the density the Goll Mansion tower would add to the neighborhood.

Alderman Robert Bauman, whose district includes the Goll Mansion site, questioned whether the project is allowed within the city’s comprehensive plan. City staff later said it is allowable.

Bauman, and others, said the development would be good – in another part of the city.

Dennis Klein, of C.D. Smith Construction, Inc., said when more density is offered, the city should jump at it.

“You can’t have it both ways,” Klein said. “We have a lot of cranes in the air right now, but what is going to happen in two years, when the arena is finished and Northwestern Mutual’s two towers are done?”

The city’s Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee and then full council will consider the project next month.

Unless another protest petition is submitted, it will only need eight votes at the full council to pass.

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