Here is a place to store information to advance the cause of saving Downer Avenue from iconic 5 story parking lot.
Thea Kovac’s May 29 Summarizing Letter
RE: File #’s 061440 and 070034 Downer Ave. Detailed Plan Development, Phase 1
PLEASE OPPOSE THE SALE OF CITY LAND ON DOWNER AVENUE TO NEW LAND ENTERPRISES & VAN BUREN MANAGEMENT FOR CURRENT DEVELOPMENT PLAN
Put the sale of the land at 2574–90 N. Downer and the current plan for development on hold until alternative plans for development that involve meaningful community input and that ultimately preserve as well as enhance the unique, marketable appeal of the Downer Avenue historic commercial district are negotiated.
TO THE PEOPLE OF THE MILWAUKEE METROPOLITAN AREA WHO HAVE BEEN CONTACTING YOU ABOUT opposing the sale of city land at 2574–90 N. Downer for the proposed parking structure with first floor retail. Please check with the staff of the Mayor’s office; the City Plan Commission; the Historic Preservation Commission; the Zoning, Neighborhood and Development and the Public Works Committees of the Common Council; and with aldermen to understand the breadth and depth of opposition to this project. For example, at the hearing of the Historic Preservation Commission in April, the Chairman mentioned that an unprecedented number of letters opposing the project had arrived ( at least 200).
TO THE COLLECTIVE OPPOSITION OF ALL LOCAL NEIGHBORHOOD GROUPS: The Water Tower Landmark Trust, the Murray Hill and Cambridge Woods Neighborhood Associations.
TO THE OBJECTIONS OF PRESERVATION GROUPS: THE NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION AND THE STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY AND THE MILWAUKEE PRESERVATION ALLIANCE.
TO THE OBJECTIONS OF OTHER EASTSIDE RESIDENTS, including those who live outside the North Point North Historic District
For instance, please note this from Pam Frautschi, 2430 E. Newberry Blvd., who wrote you on 5/23/07:
Because I am out of town, now and through the time of the May 30 Common Council meeting, without knowledge as of today, 5/23/07 of what adjustments might be made to the Downer Avenue Phase 1 Plan, it is crucial that items 061440 and 070034 are accompanied with resolution of issues that arose at the CPC, HPC and ZND Public Hearings held earlier in May.
The developers (DAPL, LLC) and their architect, Scott Kindness, were to have met again with two members of CPC and a 3 member HPC subcommittee to iron out a number of matters. We know that among adjustments the HPC subcommittee requested were: 1)lighter colored brick, 2) no 15′ lights on roof, 3) site of transformer relocation, 4) preferably improved materials & design on the East side, 5) North wall of real brick, 6) removing the stamped stone on the East side. There may be other arenas & solutions they have suggested such as provision for roof parking-area snow removal.
Concerned citizens were assured that no leverage was lost by ZND’s vote to approve, because the developers could be expected to work in good faith on the SubCommittee’s issues. It makes sense that work was done after ZND’s meeting on May 22 and prior to the Common Council agenda May 30.
If not otherwise clearly stated in the Detailed Plans, please see that stipulations are attached to agenda items #061440 and #070034. At the ZND meeting Alderman Murphy was assured that there can’t be a billboard placed on top of the bldg. At the HPC meeting the Kovacs were assured that they will be protected against any damages caused by vibrations and the construction process. Further stipulate that parking spaces cannot be contracted or used for Condo parking.(We understand that Mr. Gokhman owns the Georgetown & St Regis condo buildings on Hackett - not part of the project.) As Alderman Murphy said that is “contrary to a Public deal”.
It is also crucial that before voting you have verification that WE Energies will allow the transformer to be located inside the project.
TO NEIGHBORS: Many have written in opposition to city officials and appeared at city public hearings. A majority of those who live within 100 feet of the proposed project have joined in a formal zoning protest which has been recognized as valid in the City Clerk’s office.
TO ME: Personally, I object to the irrevocable harm this project would do to the Downer Ave. business district and to the metropolitan area in general. I’m not sure how to explain this so that it would be meaningful, since so far most city officials seem to see a large “no-strings-attached” private investment as the only tangible measure of this project’s value.
Perhaps others who are contacting you could better depict how this project would cause the loss of historic character, of green space, of open space that constitutes Downer Square.
Perhaps they could explain how out-of-scale, how incompatible, how pedestrian-adverse this proposed building would be.
Perhaps they could better detail the public safety hazards of multiple entrances and exits and increased traffic on Belleview Place, a residential street that intersects Downer Ave.
Perhaps they could better list the unresolved issues in the plan such as the permanent placement of the popcorn wagon and the utility box, snow removal, and other significant considerations listed in Pam Frautschi’s letter of 5/23/07.
Impact on our house and our quality of life
(Some of these impacts also effect the North Point North Historic District and other surrounding areas)
Let me list some of these adverse effects this project would impose on us, and on any one who visits our home. We have been residents of the 100-year-old red brick center-entrance federal colonial house (in city and federal historic districts) that is located just east of the city parcel of land since 1975. The only access to the back of the property is a 27 inch walkway along the eastern edge of the city land. The proposed 5-story open roof parking structure is currently planned to be 0 - 3 feet from that narrow walkway.
The space between the proposed building would compromise the efforts of fire and rescue crews in accessing the upper floor windows to the west and the entire rear of the property.
The house could suffer damage to its foundation, walls, and interior plaster from the vibration from construction equipment and from the excavation necessary to build underground parking and the rest of the building
Loss of southern and western sunlight
Loss of cross ventilation
Draw from chimney could be compromised
Fumes, smell from vehicles exiting and entering just to the west of our home
Noise pollution from public use of the structure 7 days per week, 24 hours per day
Views out of western and southern windows will be a 5 story blank wall. The open parking space on the roof would threaten privacy, likely be a source of litter and possibly even harmful projectiles thrown from the roof by people who have frequented the entertainment areas that serve alcohol.
Major devaluation of our property
The State of Wisconsin has determined that this federal landmark house and the rest of the North Point North federal historic district would be adversely affected and has required the city to enter into negotiations to change the structure’s design to minimize these adverse effects. (from 4/23/07 letter from the State Historical Society copied below)
As currently proposed, the parking structure project will adversely affect both the North Point North historic district and the contributing residence located at 2623 East Belleview Place. Therefore, pursuant to state law, we require negotiation with you to attempt to avoid, minimize or otherwise mitigate the adverse effects resulting from the proposed project. (Wis. Stats. § 44.42 and 66.1111)
Please also direct the city to participate in good faith in the negotiations called for by the State and by the City of Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission and City Plan Commission subcommittees. THANK YOU.
2623 E. Belleview Place
Milwaukee, WI 53211
Could the Iconic Downer Parking Garage Have Been Better Located at Park and Downer?
At each public city meeting on Downer Ave. I’ve attended between February and this week, the plan has been presented as though nearly final, and public input has been limited to only narrow aspects of the project; for example, only the exterior skin.
Where and when were the opportunities for the public — outside of a few adjacent neighbors — to be involved in basic and important aspects of the project, such as where it would be located?
Homeowners around the current location are vehemently opposed, and why doesn’t their opposition to the plan count?
(I am not a credentialed expert, but from an urban design standpoint, I think that this project would do a lot less harm at Park & Downer than at Belleview & Downer.)
Someone said that the first, public group meeting about this project was held at a church on December 18, a time of year when many people are too busy to attend a meeting. On Tuesday, the public had to wait more than two hours — 10:30 a.m. or earlier to later than 12:30 p.m. — before they could speak since Downer Ave. was #16 on the ZND agenda.
I believe that at the Plan Commission meeting in May, no (or few) members of the public who were in favor of the plan registered as being present. Numerous citizens opposed to the plan registered as being present, but were surprised and dismayed to learn that no public testimony would be allowed at that meeting. Yet, shortly after, on the same afternoon, more than a dozen individuals spoke in favor of the plan at the Historic Preservation Commission meeting (and were outnumbered by those who were opposed).
At Tuesday’s ZND meeting, no citizens in favor of the plan spoke (and, probably, none even attended).
It looks like there’s a pattern here. Perhaps, those in favor of Downer Ave. know things in advance that those opposed to it do not know? It suggests that the outcome of certain meetings was pre-determined..
Thea Kovac Appeal and File May 21, 2007
SAVE HISTORIC DOWNER AVENUE !
aEmail/mail City Officials (Sample letter attached & copied below.Addresses below)
ATTEND ZONING COMMITTEE MEETING
oppose land sale & parking structure
Tues, May 22, 2007 10:30 am
City Hall 200 E. Wells Rm. 301
Mayor Tom Barrett
200 E. Wells St. Milwaukee 53202
Common Council Members (aldermen)
City Hall, 200 E. Wells St. Milwaukee 53202
Common Council Zoning, Neighborhood and Development Committee
firstname.lastname@example.org Mike D’Amato
email@example.com Robert Bauman
firstname.lastname@example.org Ashanti Hamilton
email@example.com Willy Wade
firstname.lastname@example.org Michael Murphy
Rest of the Common Council
email@example.com Joe Dudzik
firstname.lastname@example.org Mike McGee, Jr.
email@example.com Robert W. Puente
firstname.lastname@example.org Robert Donovan
email@example.com Jim Bohl
firstname.lastname@example.org Joe Davis
email@example.com Tony Zielinski
firstname.lastname@example.org Terry Witkowski
email@example.com James Witkowiak
firstname.lastname@example.org Willie Hines, Jr.
Please also cc to: SaveDowner@aol.com
Sample Letter to Mayor Tom Barrett
and Common Council members (aldermen) below:
SEND SEPARATE EMAILS OR LETTERS to each for the most impact
Mayor Tom Barrett ….. OR….. Alderman …………..
200 E. Wells St.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Re: files #070034 & 061440
I realize that the City of Milwaukee desperately needs an increased tax base to support services for all its citizens and I understand that one of the means to do this is development of new housing and retail outlets in affluent areas. I realize too that the Downer Avenue commercial district needs revitalization after a former monopoly landlord did not pay enough attention to his properties there for over a decade, allowing buildings to deteriorate and empty storefronts to linger.
However, New Land Enterprises and Van Buren Management’s Downer Avenue Masterplan that proposes an 11-story condo/hotel, streetscaping, façade facelifts, and an inpatient surgical center, also includes the sale of city land to build a 5-story open-roof parking structure at the district’s central intersection at Downer Avenue and Belleview Place. The two-block business area would be dominated by this structure. Its scale, design, appearance, and placement, as well as its utilitarian function, would erase the appealing, eminently marketable, irreplaceable character of the Downer Ave. city-designated historic commercial district.
This district serves citizens from the entire metropolitan area and also attracts people from the suburbs and even from outside the state and the country who are looking to spend time and money in a small European village atmosphere. It makes no sense to ruin a neighborhood that brings recognition to Milwaukee as a destination for history-seeking city-dwellers and travelers along with the revenue that comes with this, in exchange for a utilitarian parking garage.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has strongly objected to this plan for this site, stating: “Simply put, a 5-story parking garage is not the right use for this site.” Moreover, the State of Wisconsin’s preservation office, The State Historical Society, has invoked statutory authority to require the City of Milwaukee to enter into negotiations to “attempt to avoid, minimize or otherwise mitigate the adverse effects resulting from the proposed project,” on the entire North Point North Federal Historic district which borders the Downer Ave commercial district.
- Please direct the Department of City Development planning staff to participate in good faith in these negotiations.
- Please direct them to seek alternative development plans that involve meaningful community input and ultimately preserve as well as enhance the unique, marketable appeal of the Downer Ave. historic commercial district.
- Please put the sale of the land at 2574–90 N. Downer and the current plan for development on hold until these steps are taken.
With no competitive bids, the CITY OF MILWAUKEE is poised (The Common Council’s Zoning, Neighborhood, and Development Committee votes on May 22, and the full Common Council has a final vote on May 30, 2007) to sell the land on the SE corner of Downer and Belleview to NEW LAND ENTERPRISES (Boris Gohkman) & VAN BUREN MANAGEMENT (Joel Lee). They want to break ground in July 2007----for a
5 – STORY open-roof PARKING STRUCTURE on the popcorn wagon corner.
If you don’t act now, the green space with magnificent tree will disappear. The popcorn wagon will be removed. In their place will be an out-of-scale, utilitarian, ultra-modern building that takes up basically the entire space at the corner. It would be the tallest building on the street, covering the land from sidewalk edge to within a few feet of the adjacent homes on Downer and on Belleview. This massive building would house a bank and other retail on the first floor, underground parking, plus 3 stories of parking above plus a level of parking on the roof.
This parking structure would be the dominant feature of the main intersection, posing safety concerns to the public due to multiple vehicular entrances and exits (including a bank drive-thru) and increased traffic, and imposing extreme adverse effects on surrounding homeowners and on the entire neighborhood. It would and erase the appealing, eminently marketable, irreplaceable character of the Downer Ave. city-designated historic commercial district for all visitors.
Peter & Thea Kovac would have a 5-story wall within a few feet of the west side of their 100 year old home along their only access to the back of their property. The entrance to the underground parking would also be located within a few feet of this side of the house. The foundations of their home would be at high risk for damage during the construction process. Noise pollution, light pollution, automobile exhaust and other negative impacts associated with parking structures, as well as the loss of the historic nature of the area would affect them, their neighbors, and visitors to the historic residential area.
The State of Wisconsin has determined that this federal landmark house and the rest of the North Point North federal historic district would be adversely affected and has required the city to enter into negotiations to change the structure’s design to minimize these adverse effects. (from 4/23/07 letter from the State Historical Society copied below) To date the City has not negotiated in good faith. It has rejected every suggestion made by the State.
Next will be a swift erasure of most of the historic identity of one of the city’s most appealing and marketable city-designated historic preservation districts. The developers’ MasterPlan includes an inpatient/outpatient center for plastic surgery with no parking/no pick-up or drop-off area for patients on site, featuring a new 3-story glass lobby at Downer Ave. and Park Pl.
Oppose the sale of this land to New Land Enterprises & Van Buren Mgmt.
Oppose construction of the 5-story parking structure
Demand alternatives for ownership and development of this city land
Simply put, a 5-story parking garage is not the right use of this site.(from 4/18/07 letter to City of Milwaukee Plan Commission from the National Trust for Historic Preservation copied below) Please join the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the State Historical Society, local neighborhood groups, including the Water Tower Landmark Trust, and the thousands of neighbors and visitors to the area who strongly oppose this project.
LETTERS FROM THE NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION
AND THE STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY copied below:
April 18, 2007
City of Milwaukee Plan Commission
809 N. Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202
RE: Downer Avenue Redevelopment Zoning Change, Phase I
Dear City Plan Commissioners:
I am writing you on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation to express our strong opposition to the Detailed Plan Development proposed at 2574–90 North Downer Avenue. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the country’s largest non-profit preservation organization, was founded in 1949 and provides leadership, education and advocacy to save America’s diverse historic places and revitalize communities. Its Washington, D.C. headquarters staff, eight regional offices and 28 historic sites work with the Trust’s 270,000 members and thousands of local community groups in all 50 states.
Historic sites such as the Downer Avenue Commercial District and the North Point Historic District play an important role in the understanding of our collective history, and can enrich our appreciation of historic neighborhoods. We are concerned that the 5-story parking garage proposed for the City of Milwaukee property at 2574–90 North Downer Avenue will have an adverse impact on both of these historic districts. The design and materials of the proposed development are entirely inappropriate for a historic district and its size is vastly out of scale for the pedestrian-friendly commercial area and residential neighborhoods on which it will intrude.
Simply put, a 5-story parking garage is not the right use for this site. The Downer Avenue Historic Commercial District, mostly comprised of two- and three-story commercial buildings built from 1903–1936, and the small scale residential homes closest to the Downer Avenue commercial district in the nearby North Point Historic District, will be overwhelmed by this development. One of the residences will be within 3 feet of the rear of the proposed new garage and will be dwarfed by this behemoth structure, drastically reducing its livability as sunlight is blocked and window views obscured.
We have reviewed several of the other submissions put forward in response to an RFP issued for the parcel, many of which are more appropriate for the site and would have much less of a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.
In light of these facts and at the request of several members of the community who asked us to intervene, we respectfully request that you, as members of the Plan Commission, turn down the parking garage proposal for this site and demand new construction of higher quality design and compatibility that befits two of Milwaukee’s finest historic neighborhoods.
Royce A. Yeater, AIA
Cc: Mayor Tom Barrett, City of Milwaukee
Chip H. Brown, III, Wisconsin Historical Society
Mr. James Draeger, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer
Denise Hice, President, Milwaukee Preservation Alliance
Mrs. Thea Kovac, 2623 E. Belleview Place, Milwaukee
Ms. Dawn McCarthy and Mr. Jeff Los, 2589 N. Lake Drive, Milwaukee
Ms. Donna Schlieman, Secretary, Milwaukee Preservation Alliance
City of MilwaukeeApril 23, 2007
Department of CityDevelopment
809 North Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Re:Proposed Parking Structure, 2574–90 NorthDowner Avenue (City file #070034)
Dear Plan Commission Members:
We have received and reviewedinformation describing the above referenced project. Pursuant to Wis. Stats. §44.42 and 66.1111, we offer the following comments.
We understand the City ofMilwaukee owns the lot described as 2574–90 North Downer Avenue (hereinafter“Lot”), which is now a surface parking area. The east edge of the Lot defines a segment of the west edge of the Stateand National Registers-listed North Point North historic district (hereinafter“Historic District”). The City has planned and does plan to sell this lot fordevelopment. The current development proposal utilizes virtually the entirefootprint of the Lot to create a fifty-five-foot-tall parking structure.
Being in close proximity (lessthan five feet) to the east edge of the Lot, one contributing property withinthe Historic District, a residence located at 2623 East Belleview Place, will beadversely affected by the proposed development project. As well, the Historic District itself will beadversely affected by the proposed development.
Our research indicates that theLot was not developed prior to 1950. Likely the only improvement to the lot hasbeen creation of the surface parking area currently at the site Thus, this lothad always provided a view from the commercial area into the residentialHistoric District. Similarly, the view from the Historic District onto thecommercial avenue, had and has been unobstructed. The visual impact of the proposedconstruction is substantial.
The close proximity of theproposed structure to the contributing residence is extreme. All views from thewest façade of the residence will be lost or highly obscured. With the proposedconstruction, the setting of this residence is altered and diminishedirreconcilably. Further, with vibration from heavy machinery during sitepreparation and building construction, there is significant risk of structuraldamage to the residence.
The scale of the proposed parkingstructure is inconsistent with the majority of the surrounding commercialbuildings along Downer Avenue, defining the west edge of the Historic District.The proposed “modern” style of the structure is out of character with buildingslocated within the Historic District.
As currently proposed, theparking structure project will adversely affect both the North Point Northhistoric district and the contributing residence located at 2623 East BelleviewPlace. Therefore, pursuant to state law, we require negotiation with you toattempt to avoid, minimize or otherwise mitigate the adverse effects resultingfrom the proposed project.
With questions, please contact meat (608) 264–6508. We look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for yourcontinued attention to this matter.
Chip Harry L. Brown III,J.D.
And Training Specialist
Save Downer Avenue from Iconic Parking Lot: Donna Schlieman’s Report on Danger for Downer
The City Plan Commission members voted unanimously to approve Mr. Kindness, architect and owner, Mr. Gokhman’s plan for the proposed parking structure at Belleview and Downer Ave. The public was NOT allowed to testify. A city lawyer rendered an opinion that the states role was just adversary. They focused mainly on Downer Ave and blithely ignored any talk of impact on Water Tower Trust Historic District. They also ignored Chip Brown’s opinion in a letter dated May 10, that stated “we add that reducing the height of the proposed parking structure, by building levels underground will reduce its impact on the district and the residence.’ They learned that the info DCD sent Mr. Brown, and from which he was working from, was from an earlier plan and not the one which they had in front of them. DCD staff did attempt to reach Mr. Brown last Fri. The CPC meeting being on Mon.
The Historic Preservation Commission members also voted unanimously to approve the plan. IN MY OPINION, they had nothing else they could do They were boxed in because they were brought in at the tail end of the process. They did decide to form a committee to be in on future meetings for the proposed Downer Ave. parking structure The city lawyer neutered the commission by stating what he thought they could or could not do. The HPC members listened to 2 hrs of public testimony from the public, pro and con. They discussed the matter and then voted.
We learned that 200 persons had sent e-mails and letters to CPC and HPC. NOT ONE was in favor. They received over 107 letters on Mon. alone. The Milwaukee Preservation Alliance thanks each one of you for your support, letters and attendance of meetings.
Expect the next action of Mr. Gokhman, owner of the historic Goll Mansion, at 1550 N. Prospect Ave, to move ahead with his plans for a high rise condo somewhere on that site. The entire site, tax code, land and home are historic. What his plans are for the mansion is up in the air.
Another building is also threatened. That is building # 11, known as the Grain Drying Storage Building, constructed c.1894, on the Pabst Historic Site. The owner has asked that it be demolished for, you guessed it, a parking lot.
Still more battles to be fought.
Donna Schlieman, Sec., MPA
Call for Symposium on Iconic 5 Story Parking Lot on Downer
Dear Preservation Leaders,
Or, if not a McDonald’s, how about an advertising billboard?
How about a design contest and/or art contest to preview how our city scape will be …. with a new parking tower iconic on Downer?
The Parking Lot That Became an Icon for Downer Ave. and Historic Milwaukee’s Renaissance
How about a McDonald’s on top of the iconic parking lot! Plenty of room for parking. But let’s make them scale down the size of the arches. We wouldn’t want our iconic parking lot to look goofy to the world that will be coming to Milwaukee over the next generation.
Would it not be a great event to find the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance(MPA) sponsoring a
Symposium to Make Iconic Parking Lot on Downer Define Milwaukee’s Renaissance for the Wider World
I suspect the Milwaukee Agora of the MilwaukeeRenaissance would be happy to help organize a symposium on
“Parking Lots as New Icons for Small Historic Avenues in Great Lakes Cities.” Perhaps the School of Architecture could organize a design charrette for Iconic Parking Lots.
The Parking Lot That Became an Icon for Historic East side’s Downer Ave.: A Symposium
I vote we invite the following to address this issue…
N.B. Please do not drive me to despair in assuming I want Downer defined by a parking lot with a McDonald’s on top!
I am in shocked disbelief the more I think about and hear about a parking lot as the icon of Downer. I thought we had learned a few lessons around the Pabst complex and the Soldiers Home, not to mention the Battleship on the Lakefront.
We Blocked Battleship from Lakefront. Can We Block Behemoth Parking Lot From Iconic Status on Historic Downer Ave.? Gail Fitch Opinion to Milwaukee Preservation Alliance(MPA) Yahoo Group
This will be the Battleship of Downer Avenue: It will be block the view of things we’d rather look at, and will have dubious economic value. Unlike the defeated Lakefront Battleship, it has NO historic value.
I hope we can “sink” it; that is, put TWO parking levels below grade and have only two levels plus the rooftop parking. That would lower it by one story.
The behemoth will BLOCK light, but if its bricks / other materials are relatively LIGHTER COLORS, the building will at least REFLECT more light, which I think is the least it owes us!
Wouldn’t this parking structure / retail building have been a better fit at PARK & Downer (NW corner), where there is more room? That location is more “tucked out of sight.” Instead, a unique little corner lot will be spoiled, with consequences to TWO historic districts! Putting this proposed building on the unique and sensitive location of Belleview & Downer (SE corner) is like Bigfoot trying to cram his appendage into a glass slipper when there was a king-size work boot as a ready alternative.
There was talk that this building will “complete the shopping street.” Nonsense! It’s an entire block of RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS on all four sides of the block! If the plan had been to put two little houses on the lot, THAT would have “completed” what was already there, and have been a lot more interesting.
Height comparisons to the Schwartz building were misleading and invalid because it is a different situation. The height of the Schwartz building does not justify height of the proposed parking structure. Behind Schwartz is an alley, backyards, and houses whose backs are turned on Downer Ave. Schwartz doesn’t block the view of anything. In contrast, this new monster is slated to go VERY CLOSE TO, and ALONGSIDE two residences: the house on Belleview and the coach house on Downer. It will VERY MUCH ruin what has been a great view, many great views.
The meeting process does not allow REBUTTLES to invalid, ridiculous, misleading, or untrue things that are said. I heard plenty of them!
Portland Building a Parking Lot DOWN, With a Park On Top!
Get this. Downtown Portland needed more parking. So they are building a parking lot DOWN!! They dug up the earth and the cars will go DOWN and there is going to be a PARK on the top. The joke is, they tore down a parking lot and put up a park!! Now that is a city that thinks green. How about that for Downer?!?!?!?! Barbara the Nia dancer.
National Trust on Downer Parking Lot Icon: adverse impact on historic preservation and on Downer Avenue and the surrounding area.
May 15, 2007
As the song goes, “There’s trouble…right here in River City”, but it’s not sbout “pool” and its location instead is in Milwaukee. The trouble is disregard for democratic process and blatant disregard for citizens who hold democratic process as a value in the utmost regard.
Between the City’s Broadway building for the CPC meeting at 1:30pm May 14th, and City Hall for the HPC meeting at 3pm, I was involved in my city for nearly five hours yesterday. In a city I love and the East Side neighborhood I love, where I’ve lived for 42 years, I’ve never been more dismayed than I was yesterday at what goes on at “City Hall”. As Mayor you must be aware of the CPC’s disregard of public opinion and your citizenry’s puzzlement about why you’re not stepping in. How can you stand it? Better put, why do you stand for it?
At the CPC meeting, a commission you appointed, announcement was made that agenda Item #1 regarding Phase 1 of the Downer Avenue Plan was not going to be a Public Hearing and that citizens would not be heard. When I objected and asked were there not rules that provided that when an issue was tabled at their last meeting (Apr 23), that their resumption at this meeting would be a resumption of Public Hearing, I was told, “No”. Upon stating that I’d been out of town thereby missing the April 23 meeting, I was allowed to submit my written statement and its attachment into the public record, but not to read it. My statement and its attachment I believe established potential grounds for CPC to become aware that they might be in conflict with the City’s Ordinance regarding the Sale of City Property.
Though the Downer Phase 1 issue had been tabled April 23 due to statements (letters) from Wisconsin Historic Society and the National Trust for Historic Preservation referencing State Statutes the City must observe, that too was basically bypassed. A representative from DCD stated that between their thwarted efforts to negotiate with the preservation organizations, and the passage of 30 days stated in the Statute, “adverse impact” was not discussed. They called for a vote.
Any 4th grader knows that 30 days have not passed since April 23. No one blinked. I am aware from my own communications (after May 4) that the two preservation groups are easy to reach, and they respond quickly. Little contact notice and communication had come to them from CPC. As you know CPC passed the detailed plan unanimously with the condition that DCD staff would remain in communication with NLE about any further changes in the plan.
At the HPC 3pm meeting, they too were being presented for the first time the New Land Enterprises detailed plans. It was heartening to hear the HPC members’ concerns about the local citizenry not being truly represented in the process. HPC received 200 letters of objection, and none in favor of Phase 1 of the project being considered. HPC itself was perplexed in holding an “after-the-fact” position in the matter, since CPC had already voted.
Follow-up letters from the State Society and from the National Trust, along with suggested solutions, said the project as currently designed has an adverse impact on historic preservation and on Downer Avenue and the surrounding area. That information was contested by the CPC representatives and by NLE and its architect who admitted not knowing if the preservation groups had gotten the updated electronic information. Emphasis was on the preservation groups status as “simply advisory”.
Alderman Baumann said, “The State has no binding order on us. The State is no more than a witness.”
Alderman D’Amato said, “ The Statute does not govern here. This is a matter of local control.”
That bodes poorly for the protective element of historic designation.
Though 26 attending citizens were each allowed two minutes to speak for or against the aesthetics of the project, and the Commission members asked many questions about materials, dimensions and potential to meet the State and National organizations suggestions, no change in the detailed plan was made. After much reluctance HPC unanimously passed the Certificate of Appropriateness with the condition that a 3-member HPC sub-committee be involved in the development of the detailed plan. The sub-committee’s work with NLE must be done by July 29 in order for NLE to maintain its construction timetable.
Please watch the videos and listen to the tapes of those meetings. Please read the letters of the State Historical Society and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Please exercise your leadership to restore a sense of democratic process in Milwaukee.
Very truly yours,
Pamela Frautschi, 2430 E. Newberry Blvd, Milw 53211 (414) 962–1541
The members of Historic Preservation Commission were kept in the dark until citizens started sending them info.
For Downer Ave plans go to:
For Downer Ave. proposed parking structure go to the above address. Be mindful that these plans change very frequently and what is up there now is not what the commission is going from presently. They also have used the words 4 story for parking. Realty is parking will be allowed on the roof, 5 ft story and 15 ft. light poles are in the scheme. Plans for every meeting have always been late. Plans which were sent to the rep. at the State Historical Society which he was using for reference were not current. City atty. testified today that the HPC Commissioners had asked the state to intervene. They did NOT. Citizens asked for his help. For the first time in the city both the state and the National Trust for Historic Preservation both sent letters in opposition to the project. Precedent was set this time by leaving HPC out of the process until they became the tail at the end of the dog. The members of HPC were kept in the dark until citizens started sending them info.
Why Is Downer Iconic Parking Lot Project Being “Rushed?” Why No Detailed Plans for Citizen Review on City Website?
Date: Wed, 16 May 2007 21:00:29 −0500
Subject: Letter to Aldermen Bauman & D’Amato 5/16/07
May 16, 2007
Please try to understand why so many of the same people, including me, attend and request to speak at the meetings and hearings regarding the Downer Avenue Plan. Your assertions at the May 16 Public Works meeting: 1) that 40 meetings have been accessible to us to be informed about the project, 2) that the process is not “rushed”, & 3) that as Mike said, “Their intention is to kill this project”, lack understanding and are unbecoming to you.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity beyond my initial statement at the Hearing to say 1) that the concerned citizens need to remain vigilant because we don’t have direct resources or city sites to visit beforehand to learn what changes and proposals will be presented at the meetings, and 2) that it is not others that I know of or my intention to kill the project but to have it better suited to the many circumstances worthy of consideration.
Other than the City’s Public Hearings, the prior meetings I had an opportunity to attend were “presentations” rather than “negotiations”. Most of the meetings you refer to were not notified to us as open to the public.
Regarding “rushed”: Further understand that when HPC is considered “advisory” to the CPC decision, but is superceded by the CPC vote (before HPC met), the sincerity of intention is invalidated. The sequence of meetings and decisions is easily viewed as “rushed”.
At the Public Works meeting, with unresolved important issues such as 1) the $200,000 cost of moving the transformer…and where to move it? 2) What plan is made for snow removal from the parking roof? 3) What solutions are possible to comply with the 20′ setback from the NW corner of the next-door house (that are not based of averages of other distances involved)? 4) What changes are associated with CPC and HPC conditions of working with the developers before they can carry out their intentions to break ground at the end of July? And 5) the request that you delay your vote regarding sale until Public Works’ next meeting, your Commission voted. That too contributes to interpretations of “rushed”.
This, coupled with your references that the developers’ complete plan is dependent upon Phase I as proposed, I think gives a green light to DAPL, LLC, and a red light to the rest of us. Eventually you may also find yourselves at a red light, disempowered to control the project.
I hope the detailed plans are now posted on a City website so that we have access to changes as they occur before the ZND meeting.
We are not asking you to throw away what is referred to as “the fifty-five million dollar gift to the City”. We are asking you to help shape the plan and use the insights and perspectives that experts and the seasoned community around the project offer.
Very truly yours,
Pamela Frautschi, 2430 E. Newberry Blvd.
A City TIF to Subsidize Underground Parking Lot on Downer w. an Urban Garden On Top?
Or, is there any way to allow some of those most adversely affected to make some kind of investment toward an underground parking lot with an urban garden on top?
Nik Kovac on Save Downer Avenue
Please do not think approving this particular plan is a choice between inconveniencing dozens of homeowners vs. revitalizing a commercial strip and increasing city revenues through a land sale and increased tax base. In fact, the current plans risks destroying the very area it claims to save, and alternatives have not yet been given time for consideration.
Every commercial building in the two-block commercial stretch of Downer Avenue is either two or three stories. The current greenspace and majestic tree just east of the surface parking lot provide a buffer and visual corridor between the commercial and residential districts, both of which have historic statuses from either city, state, or federal governments.
This new parking garage will become the iconic centerpiece of a unique Milwaukee corridor. It will the tallest and biggest building on the block. There is nothing like Downer Avenue anywhere else in the city, as I’m sure all of you know. A quick look at the designs for this signature structure immediately reveal that the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater. Downer Avenue will cease to be the unique destination it has been and could continue to be, and will lose its inherent competitive advantage with other shopping districts like Bayshore.
Yes, Downer Avenue is not now at its full potential, but the primary reasons for that are not a lack of parking or surgical facilities. Most long-time observers will tell you the driving cause of the current vacancies was the mismanagement of the previous landlord, Danny Katz. In terms of ambition for the area, the current landowner – New Land Enterprises – is an improvement, but this massive development plan needs to be modified and improved.
Yes, nearby residents and merchants think that, but so do shoppers who come from far away and visit occasionally or often. Hundreds of letters have recently come pouring in from every corner of the city, county, and beyond objecting to the current plan. Historic Preservation Commission chairman Tim Stemper said on Monday afternoon that he had never seen such a massive public response to any item.
Although his Commission voted to approve, they did so reluctantly and with the hope that a subcommittee they created will finally be involved in the design process. Stemper publicly chastised the local alderman and the Department of City Development for not involving them in the process sooner, as is standard procedure. In other words, the city, as of two days ago, finally has a full range of experts working on making this plan better. We should give their efforts time to mature by tabling this item until the next cycle.
There was another revelation at Monday’s meeting which should give you confidence that such a delay will not jeopardize the ultimate success of this project. New Land partner Boris Gokhman told the HPC that he cannot break ground until late July, because he doesn’t want to disturb that annual Downer Days bikerace. In other words, holding off on final approvals until June is a win-win for everybody: it gives the full machinery of city government time not just to consider – but also to influence and improve – this project, which will result in a better Downer Avenue for everyone. Neighbors, shoppers, the city, and, of course, the developer, will benefit from such a pragmatic and thorough approach.
As currently conceived, the plan not only carries the baggage of widespread community opposition, but also the official and statutory objections of the State Historical Society. Such objections are not merely aesthetic in nature. The historical value of Downer Avenue is a marketable commodity. This is not an issue of preservation vs. progress.
Something can and should be built on that parcel, but it should be contextual to what already exists – so that the new and the old enhance each other and the neighborhood’s profitable charm. We are not just losing history if we build this massive lotline-to-lotline parking structure in the middle of Downer Avenue – we are losing an opportunity to preserve Milwaukee’s long-term economic vitality and tax base.
This committee has the important responsibility of approving all city land sales, which, as you know, are decisions which cannot be reversed. The entire neighborhood and city looks forward to your careful consideration of this matter.
2911 N. Fratney Street
Milwaukee, WI 53212
414 801 2110