A new proposal would turn a parking lot on Atwood Avenue into a mixed-use development, enlivening the space and providing 76 units of housing.
Developer Joe Krupp wants his project to include public parking for businesses in the Schenk's Corners area, including restaurants and bars, but it's unclear if he'll have the funding to make that parking a reality.
Krupp is proposing a four-story building at 1936 and 1938 Atwood Ave. The property at 1938 Atwood Ave. is a large surface parking lot serving nearby Monona State Bank at 1965 Atwood Ave. and SARA Investment Real Estate at 1955 Atwood Ave. The 1936 Atwood Ave. property contains a house “cut up into some apartments” that would be demolished, Krupp said.
The apartments would be a mix of efficiencies, one-bedroom, one-bedroom with a den, and two-bedroom units. Prime Urban Properties, owned by Krupp, would manage the property.
Krupp’s U-shaped building would put about 3,500 square-feet of commercial space on the first floor facing Atwood Avenue. About half of that would be the offices of Prime Urban Properties. Because the commercial space is small and on the one-way section of Atwood, “it’s not a great natural retail location,” Krupp said. He thinks a service tenant in the remainder of the commercial space may be a good fit.
The first-floor commercial space would be topped by three floors of apartments. Four stories is allowed as a conditional use in the area, Ald. Marsha Rummel said.
According to the letter of intent from the developer, “from the neighborhood’s perspective, the most important feature of the project is the provision of public-use parking."
Because of this, the project would ideally provide 145 enclosed parking spaces, with 84 stalls underground and 61 enclosed first-floor stalls, the letter says. The underground parking would serve residential and commercial tenants. The first floor would be a paid parking structure for public and private use, serving Monona State Bank and SARA during the day and nearby businesses at night and on weekends.
But constructing extra spots for the public would require financial assistance from the city, the letter says.
Krupp submitted a tax increment financing application to help construct the parking, but faced with questions from city staff, also prepared an alternate parking proposal. The alternate proposal says that if the city cannot provide funds, the developer would instead provide just 26 first-floor parking stalls, and use the rest of the space to increase the number of apartment units from 76 to 85.
“It’s in the city’s hands, and I was very clear that’s what I feel should be done and needs to be done,” Krupp said.
Matthew B. Mikolajewski, director of the city's economic development division, said city staff found the project did not have a financial gap and did not warrant TIF funds.
“Ultimately, it’s the council and the mayor that make a decision on when and how to award TIF funding … there have been times where the city has made exceptions to its TIF protocols,” Mikolajewski said. “But again, from a staff perspective … there does not appear to be a gap requiring TIF.”
Heather Stouder, director the city’s planning division, said in an email that the developer’s application will need to narrow down its proposal to one parking option, as the “Plan Commission needs to review a single, complete development proposal.”
Parking issues aside, Krupp said he thought the general reaction at a recent neighborhood meeting was positive, with some concerns about stormwater management and questions about the architectural details.
About 20 people attended the meeting, Rummel said, raising questions about topics like the design elements and whether the terrace could accommodate large trees. After the meeting, she said, she heard “concerns about the loss of affordable housing from residents of the building proposed to be demolished at 1936 Atwood.”
The project is likely to appear before the Plan Commission in January, Krupp said. He hopes to start construction in May and have the building ready for occupancy by May 2020.
“It’s a great project and Mr. Krupp has done a lot of great work in the neighborhood,” Mikolajewski said. “We hope that the project can still move forward in one form or another.”