Mandel Group proposes a 46-unit apartment complex with Adventure Rock Climbing Gym on North Avenue and the west bank of the Milwaukee River.
The original master plan that was approved (with much controversy) for the Jewel Osco development in 1998 included bluff development and a small park at North Avenue. Jewel Osco eventually sold to Pick ‘n Save. The building’s commercial unit along North Avenue, after being empty for a number of years, was developed as the Columbia St. Mary’s Family Health Center.
A plan approved in 2003 resulted in condominium units being built along the bluff on Riverboat Road (lower level) and Commerce Street (upper level). They have been sold and occupied by residents. Part of the plan included a green space near the now-existing stairway to the pedestrian bridge over the river. Another building was slated for the bluff and a separate green space at North Avenue.
The requested change pushes this “phase II” of the development towards North Avenue and combines the two green spaces. There is an additional green space adjacent to parking areas, a triangle near the stairs but on the opposite side of Commerce Street.
Some Facts
There is an approved development plan for the area. Mandel is scheduled to go before the City Plan Commission to ask for some changes.
The number of apartment units is slated at 46 in the 2014 plan. These are all market rate rental units, with rents planned to come in at about $1,250 for a one-bedroom apartment.
A significant development is the inclusion of Adventure Rock Climbing Gym as the retail component on the commercial part of the buildings. The amount of green space will remain the same as in 2003 plan, but will be consolidated and not divided by the new building.
Community Meeting
On Wednesday, April 23 between 50 and 60 people attended a community comment meeting at Riverview Hall, the UW-Milwaukee dorm across North Avenue from the proposed development.
Ald. Nik Kovac introduced Mandel representative Bob Monnat and architect Brian Johnsen from Johnsen Schmaling Architects. Citizens commented and asked question.
Supporters of the Adventure Rock Climbing Gym represented about half those in attendance. Residents in the condominiums along Commerce Street were concerned about parking for the Gym and overflow parking for the apartments.
Some attendees were concerned about possible damage to the environment by the development. David Press of the Milwaukee River Advocates Cooperative made a presentation to the group addressing concerns about the proximity of the building to the edge of the bluff and the effects of construction on the river and habitat of the area.
Bob Monnat pointed out that the large green space associated with the development is very important. He referred to the combination of commercial, residential and green spaces as “an urban planner’s Nirvana.”
The architect clarified some points about the building design. Central to the eye appeal of the building is a large window area allowing the public to view the climbing wall in the Adventure Rock facility. The outside of the building will feature weathered steel and texturing that will display interesting shadows and coloring that changes over the years as the metal ages.
Upcoming Meetings
Residents will have several more opportunities for input on the project.
Mandel representative Bob Monnat will make a presentation at the Riverwest Neighborhood Association May meeting on Tuesday, May 13 at the Gordon Park Pavilion. The Pavilion will be open at 6:30 PM so neighbors can view maps and architectural drawings of the project.
The project will be presented to the City Plan Commission on Monday, May 19, 1:30, at 809 N Broadway, first floor.
It will also be presented to the Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development (ZND) Committee on Thursday, May 29, 9AM at City Hall, Room 301B.
Additional materials for this article provided by Janice Christensen.