BY LEAH JORN —
Oakland Avenue will soon gain a controversial addition: a multi-use complex, consisting of a two-story Metro Market, six-story 80-unit apartment complex and four-story parking garage sprawling nearly three blocks.
A Shorewood ordinance states that no building can surpass four stories, but the Metro Market complex has received an exception. However, the apartment building has received significant opposition, posing the question of whether or not the building should be allowed to exceed the four-story limit.
During village board, plan commission, design review board and various other public meetings regarding the new structure, residents came to voice their opinion on the matter.
“[The residents] started a petition and got over 600 people to sign [it], and my understanding is the petition is primarily saying they would prefer the building to stay at four stories, rather than go above,” said Guy Johnson, president of the Shorewood Village Board.
“I don’t think it’s going to improve our tax base or … the quality of life for anyone that has a single or even a duplex residence in the village. Neighborhoods are created [by] people getting to know each other, and these apartment complexes really don’t promote getting to know each other,” said Sharon Hogue, resident.
Residents who wish to keep the unique, small feeling of Shorewood oppose the apartment because it would add to the rising skyline of Shorewood, which is already beginning to grow rapidly. “It really doesn’t enhance the view of Oakland Avenue. In fact, it becomes just another Milwaukee street,” Hogue said.
Other residents disagree, thinking that the new development will bring positive change.
“I think it will be good; I think it will help with the tax base, and bring more jobs to the area,” said Craig Loomis, resident.
Johnson, along with the Village Board, has been working on this project for 10 years.
“We’re satisfying a number of items that are in our vision that we want for the village: to make the village more vibrant,” Johnson said.
Originally, the board was looking for a developer who would stay under four stories, but with the limited number of apartments that could be built in a four-story building, the village would not be able to pay back the loan needed to start the construction as fast and as economically as they could with six stories.
A four-story building would take the village 19 years and 14 million dollars to pay back the loan, whereas a six-story building would only take 15 years and 12 million dollars.
During the planning commission meetings, the developer tried to meet the standards of residents opposing the complex.
One of the proposed changes was to inset the top two floors, which would result in a smaller shadow cast by the apartments.
Despite efforts to put the project on hold, development of the six-story complex is still slated to begin in 2015.