Bay Lofts apartment seeks next approval
This article originally appeared on greenbaypressgazette.com by Alyssa Bloechl on 4/10/2016.
Apartment and commercial building plans for the former Harbor Place Shoppes on the west side of Sturgeon Bay are to be discussed at a Wednesday meeting of the City Plan Commission. In mid-January, developers of the project called The Bay Lofts, were approved for a preliminary Planned Unit Development (PUD) by the Commission.
A PUD allows for a building to be in its own zoning district, defined and approved by the Plan Commission and City Council. The special designation is needed at the 49 Madison Avenue location so the building can be a little taller than permitted in its current zoning of “commercial business.”
Moving into the next approval meeting, project developer Urban Apex (formerly New Urban Focus) has made a few slight changes to their plan to make it more appealing for the PUD designation, said Community Development Director Marty Olejniczak said.
The biggest change is concerning the retail space, which was increased from 2,300 square feet to 3,100 square feet and split into two parts, which would allow two businesses to occupy the first floor space. Each of the retail spaces is also going to have a second floor mezzanine space for storage use.
Another change is the location of refuse receptacles, which the original drawing showed near the retail space outside near Madison Avenue, but are now to be located inside the first floor parking garage. This bumped two parking slots out of the covered parking area, and two slots were added to the exterior parking lot.
To offering more green space on the site, rain gardens are going to be built using water from the development’s roof. A buffer area will also be installed in the parking lot for water to flow in addition to some that will flow into the storm sewer.
“This proposed plan has less impervious (non-absorbent) surface than what there was before,” Olejniczak said. “This will lead to less runoff into the bay.”
Urban Apex will also be looking to vacate part of the property they are working with along Larch Street in exchange for the city vacating a piece of property along Madison Avenue.
The land swap would have Urban Apex vacate a 1,700-square-foot space along the building’s Larch Street side, which would give the city access to it, and give the ability to install sidewalk and a proper pedestrian crossing. The city would be swapping that for a triangular 3,300-square-foot space along Madison Avenue that is currently used for a few angular parking spaces.
With developer access to that piece of land, they can build out the retail space, allows them to create a patio area. The parking would no longer be angular but parallel.
Olejniczak said this would cause the area to lose between one and two street parking spots.
“The eight-foot strip along Larch Street means more to us than the Madison Avenue frontage,” Olejniczak said. “The triangle is harder for the city to maintain, and the city then sees a consistent look on Madison.”
The land swap will have to be approved through a different process than the PUD and will include a public hearing. Olejniczak said this measure would most likely wait until a PUD is accepted by the Commission and Council.
The Waterfront Design Review Board must also approve the design and landscaping plan of the development plans due to its proximity to the bay.
The plan contains 10 one-bedroom apartments, 22 two-bedroom and three three-bedroom spaces.
Sturgeon Bay City Administrator Josh VanLieshout said that if this project makes it through all of its necessary approvals, the apartment building will be beneficial to the city.
“It will hopefully inspire redevelopment and development while adding to the excitement and buzz on the west side,” VanLieshout said. “Adding more residents downtown will have an impact on retailers and vibrancy of Sturgeon Bay.”
The apartments option is something Sturgeon Bay has not been able to offer new and existing residents for a long time, VanLieshout said. It is expected to draw a cross-section of residents including snowbirds, empty nesters, young professionals, and millennials.
Construction and use of this building is also expected to provide finance increment, as it is located within the City’s Tax Increment District No. 4.
“Increment will help provide funding for public park development along the waterfront by the hotel parcels,” Olejniczak said.
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