After seeing the in the Fox Bay parking lot, Whitefish Bay Plan Commissioners gave the concept its preliminary approval.
The Plan Commission held a pre-petition conference with the developer, Mandel Group, Wednesday night. The conference, required by the village's planned development process, does not include a public hearing, but gives commissioners a chance to decide whether the general proposal should be further considered by the Village Board.
"This is really intended to be a preliminary discussion with all of you," said Dick Lincoln, the company's senior vice president.
The developers at a Community Development Authority meeting Monday night. The developers shared their plans with Whitefish Bay Business Improvement District officials earlier Monday, but two leaders of the organization said they personally felt they should have been included in the discussion earlier on.
In a letter to the Village Board and Plan Commission, BID Chairman John Stuhlmacher and Vice Chairman Josh Welsh said they are disappointed by the village officials' lack of disclosure in communicating with local businesses about the development.
"Given the substantial impact of any development of the parking lots, one would think that ideas from the business community would have been solicited," the letter states. "The village has one opportunity to develop the subject parcels in a way that can have a meaningful long-term impact to the business district and can result in a development which is a hallmark of the Village. Perhaps the Proposed Development is as good as it's going to get, Unfortunately, the process by which it has come about leaves doubt in that regard."
The BID as a whole has not yet discussed the proposal as a group. Lincoln said The Mandel Group has accepted the BID's invitation to discuss the development with local business owners at their next BID meeting in June.
"We will continue to work with all of you….We have no intention of ignoring the business community," Lincoln said at the Wednesday night meeting.
The proposal calls for a $27 million three-building development containing 103 high-end apartments in the north municipal lot spanning from Santa Monica Boulevard to Diversey Boulevard.
The two buildings on the east end would feature underground parking for residents, ground level parking for business customers and three levels of apartments above the sheltered parking area. The four-story building on the west end would offer underground parking for residents but no ground level parking.
Because the village would retain ownership over the eastern parking lot and a redesigned public walkway, the developer is asking the village to assist in financing their estimated $2.7 million in public parking renovations by issuing $1.7 million in TIF bonds. Once the project is built and stabilized, the developer estimates the village would receive an additional $320,000 in annual tax revenue.
The Plan Commission, CDA and Architectural Review Commission will continue to discuss the proposal and eventually make a recommendation to the Village Board for a vote.