Monroe Street project

A rendering shows a design for a five-story mixed-use building at 1603-09 Monroe St.

Developer Gregg Shimanski said he and his team took care to address potential parking issues with a proposed five-story, mixed-use building on Monroe Street.

But he acknowledged after a neighborhood meeting this week that traffic around the site near Camp Randall Stadium will have to get the same kind of attention.

Shimanski wants to demolish the office building he occupies at 1603-05 Monroe St. and a rental house at 1609 Monroe St. to construct a five-story building with commercial space, 44 apartments and four condominium units.

He said working on that site for the last 15 years has helped him become sensitive to the need for parking in the area. In addition to one parking space per apartment unit and two per condo, the two levels of underground parking in the project also includes 15 spaces for public use.

"I think I am going over and above, but you have to look not only at the window of time today but five and 10 and 15 years into the future," Shimanski said.

He envisioned potential future development at the site of Mickie's Dairy Bar across Oakland Avenue from his project location and a possible vertical expansion of HotelRED at the corner of Monroe and Regent streets.

"There's going to be continually an emphasis on parking," Shimanski said.

Traffic emerged as a theme at a neighborhood meeting Wednesday night, with some of the estimated 40 residents and property owners in attendance concerned about more cars on Oakland Avenue.

Shimanski and District 13 Ald. Sara Eskrich said cars already use Oakland, a one-way street, as a route to the east from Monroe Street through the Vilas neighborhood. Shimanski said his development team is looking into recommending traffic-calming measures for the street to slow cars.

Eskrich said the additional parking was welcomed by the neighborhood but there were concerns about the parking access off of Oakland, which would direct people leaving the commercial and residential building into the neighborhood.

Still, Eskrich said there was mostly general support for the project at Wednesday's meeting and a recognition that it could be a good use of the site.

The $10 million project includes a five-story building above the two levels of parking. The ground floor would include 5,000 to 6,000 square feet of commercial space, some of which would house Shimanski's real estate office.

The second, third and fourth floors would house a mix of 22 studio, 10 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom apartments. A set-back fifth floor is for the condominium units.

The exterior is designed using brick and contemporary metal elements, Shimanski said.

"It's a very good looking building," he said. "We got a lot of compliments on the look of the building."

The proposal could be filed with the city next month, Shimanski said, and make its way through the city approval process starting in May. He's hoping to start construction late this summer and have the building open in the spring of 2017.

The building's height was another concern aired by area residents, Eskrich said, but not to the extent she expected.

The 2007 Monroe Street Commercial District Plan envisioned the 1600 block of Monroe Street becoming a mix of retail, residential and commercial uses. It called for the pursuit of the "redevelopment of underutilized or deteriorated sites in order to create a gateway onto Monroe Street and establish land uses that are more compatible with the surrounding areas and other parts of the street."

That plan called for a building of between two to four stories, with the third and fourth floors stepped back from the sidewalk and the rear of the project stepped down to make a more comfortable transition to the residential neighborhood.

The existing office building, constructed in 1960 according to city records, and the 1904-built house next door are both two stories tall.

Shimanski's proposal goes one story higher than the commercial district plan recommended, but his team argued that the location is at a low spot on Monroe Street.

"You hear five stories and it sounds really tall," Eskrich said. "In context, I think it helps people to realize that it could fit in pretty well."

Having the fifth floor be owner-occupied units added to the consideration, Eskrich said.

"The condos on that fifth floor ... provide a really nice potential source of stability for that building," she said, "and makes it a place where residents who currently own single-family homes in the neighborhood might want to move when they're empty-nesters or choosing to downsize. You can stay in the neighborhood, still be an owner, build your equity but be in that prime location that is so desirable."

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