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Luxury Apartment Proposal Earns Preliminary Approval

The four-story apartment proposal was introduced to two village committees this week, but two business district leaders say they should have had a seat at the table earlier on.

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.

Absolutelyfabulous May 18, 2012 at 02:49 AM
C'mon..people aren't that stupid or are they. Mandel has a BINDING agreement to purchase the lot that Anchor took back from New Land Enterprises via foreclosure. A binding agreement means you are locked in. You buy it. Why didn't Mandel put in an OPTION to purchase the lot instead. Then if things didn't work out or residents/business leaders were not happy and actually had a say then the option expires and Anchor retains ownership of the parcel and Mandel walks away. Stop playing residents for a bunch of fools. This has played out exactly the same way you operated in Shorewood. You don't just all of the sudden put together architectural renderings/come up w/ financials/requests for Village & taxpayers subsidies for your proposal out of the blue. This has been in the works for quite some time. Remember, you had to get Anchor Bank/New Land on board to separate the parking lot from the buildings they purchased and then have Anchor agree to sell the lot separately. Now, you most likely got the parking lot for a very nice price, but you need to have the other municipal lots to make this thing work. Why would you purchase a piece of property if you did not have the green light from the Village to make use of the other municipal lots for your development? So, don't BS all the residents and take them for a bunch of fools. This was a very calculated, closed door/members only deal that has many facets/select players involved.
Absolutelyfabulous May 18, 2012 at 03:10 AM
Part 1 Oh What the He**. Another thing..How accurate are the rents that this project will command. Are they throwing out accurate #'s or going on the low side to help them on their end in terms of receiving village monies/grants/assistance. I mention this because of a number of factors. 1st, outside of Shorewood's development, there are absolutely ZERO luxury/modern apartment buildings between Downtown & I don't even know how far North. Now, you do have The Portico's in Fox Point and they do have a few tennis courts and possibly a pool, but they are right off the freeway and I am sure their interiors are nowhere near what this developments will be. So, on that note, what kinds of rents are The Portico's generating per sq ft vs what Mandel is telling you? The WFB location is a freaking home run in terms of how/where it's situated as previously mentioned in the other article, though I did leave out proximity to Downtown and freeway accessibility as yet more positives. Also, in Shorewood the church next to the parking structure now under construction mentioned that they were concerned about the height of this 5 property and how it would affect their "sunlight" on their property. Then all of the sudden everything is fine and it's been decided that YET another story will be added to this parking structure w/ an additional $1,000,000 to the project cost.
Absolutelyfabulous May 18, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Part 2 Now, there is such a defense/tactic used when a building is going up that is much higher than the surrounding properties in the neighborhood. I believe it's called The Shadow Effect. I don't know how effective it is but it has prevailed in some instances. I'm thinking that the church threw this out there knowing they could potentially use it as a way to gain concessions for what they really wanted and not hold the project up. Let's face it, when you go to church how much time do you really spend outside to begin with for the 2 hours a week that one is there? They were concerned about their loss of parking for their parishoners and utilized whatever they could. Now, nothing has ever been said that this was the case, but that's my guess. Also, let's not forget the $200,000 gift that the village bestowed upon Sendiks. Oh yeah, whenever there are articles about the project in Shorewood, they always neglect to mention all the additional $$$ ($1,000,000 additional floor in parking structure & Sendik's $200,000 grant + $150,000 Low Interest Loan) that were added after the fact or better yet, released to the public after all approvals had been granted. Just kind of spread things out and slip them in 1 at a time so hopefully no one notices the tab keeps on rising. Good luck and throw out whatever you can to make sure your interests are not neglected for the benefit of others.
George Mitchell May 18, 2012 at 01:55 PM
The critic above would have more credibility if he/she used a name. Anonymous allegations don't contribute to a process where WFB residents can draw conclusions. In an earlier life I had the opportunity to know and work with Mandel staff. My history with them was 100% positive. I acknowledge that bias. The longstanding success of the firm says to me that we are fortunate they are pursuing is project. None of which means the Village should not scrutinize the plans and have a very open public process for review and evaluation. That would include critics having a chance to participate and attach their name to the public record.
George Mitchell May 18, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Patch should re-examine the practice of allow anonymous comments. The original story has a named author and the story associates comments with names. Then the "comment" section allows anyone to throw around charges anonymously. The standards for the comment section should more closely match those used in the original story insofar as identifying who is saying what.
Absolutelyfabulous May 18, 2012 at 05:59 PM
And the way the entire process played out in Shorewood should provide a backdrop to what's happening in WFB. The residents/taxpayers were completely shut out of the entire process and only became aware of the project after renderings were released via the media as is happening so far in WFB. No input was sought or taken into consideration w/ regard to design/height/# of units/financing/grants provided. Numerous questions were repeatedly asked over & over w/ regard to financials et al to never be answered. Why wasn't an RFP or Request For Proposal put out to the public to allow developers to submit proposals for the redevelopment of these parcels? Might have mixed things up in terms of not only how many units but also height, design, requests for village/taxpayer assistance? No competition and you block out numerous potential alternatives. WFB holds the cards since the other parcels had to be rezoned to allow any development of scale to proceed. A back door deal w/ select players involved making the decisions. Why was the re-zoning/request for 93 unit condo proposal by New Land Enterprises not accepted/approved by the Village decision makers when they presented plans? Yet, Mandel receives intial approval for a 103 apt. complex which will ultimately flip to condos? All one has to do to see how things played out in Shorewood is search via Shorewood Patch and input Mandel/apartments. It all played out as it is starting to in WFB. History repeating itself.
Absolutelyfabulous May 18, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Now, this parcel was originally purchased along w/ the buildings ie Fox Bay theater et al for ~$10,000,000. New Land made the purchase for the lot behind to do a development. Now that New Land no longer owns the most valuable piece of the puzzle what will this building be assessed @ between now & any completion of future development behind it? Was there some sort of deal worked out on that end as well in order to facilitate New Land giving up the most valuable piece of their puzzle? Though, I wonder if there was a mad dash to get the Shorewood project approved because of the difference in taxpayers $$$ involved in that vs what WFB's bill will be. How would it have looked if Mandel seeks $4-5,000,000 from WFB (though the tab will probably keep rising) and in Shorewood his project ends up costing via TIF's/Grants over $9,000,000. There might have been more of an outcry/public participation if Shorewood residents knew what was happening across the border. Though, once again, Shorewood/Mandel repeatedly refused to disclose numerous financial details of the development no matter how many times they were requested through various media outlets. Laughing all the way to the bank. Timing is everything.

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