Site plan backed for senior housing, townhomes in Ashwaubenon
By Kevin Boneske
ASHWAUBENON – A site plan to build a three-story senior living apartment building and 15, two-story, three-bedroom rental townhomes between Mike McCarthy Way and Borvan Avenue received approval Nov. 5 from both the village’s Site Plan Review Committee and the Plan Commission.
Community Development Director Aaron Schuette said the affordable senior housing project requested by General Capital on a 2.51-site currently owned by Ashwaubenon’s Community Development Authority would also have commercial space on the first floor of the apartment building.
He said the apartment building would front Mike McCarthy Way, with the townhomes located along the eastern parcel boundary next to US Special Delivery and Borvan Avenue.
Sig Strautmanis of General Capital said the company has looked at concerns about locating a senior housing project near a trucking company to the east and entertainment venues to the west.
Strautmanis said he believes seniors who would want to live there will like to be in an active environment.
“We do not believe that, on its face, just being in a busy place is any kind of a detriment,” he said. “In fact, we found that in our market study, people will say that that’s what seniors want these days. Typically more activity, and also they tend to be employed later in their retirement, things like that. So this is actually a great location from that side of things.”
Strautmanis said a lot of storage takes place on the west side of the US Special Delivery site, but the main facility where all the activity occurs is about 200 feet to the east.
“The first thing we want to do is along that property line, one of the staff’s recommendations was to look at a fence, something more opaque on that side of the property, and to also beef up the landscaping,” he said. “Both of those things are something that are easy to do, and we would like to do that just to kind of establish an edge to the property.”
Strautmanis said the layout with the buildings involves having the L-shape for the apartment building on the west side of the property with the short end of the building being the closest to US Special Delivery about 60 feet off the property line on the east where there would only be four units.
“The rest of the units are really down the hall and of course, you know, then several hundred feet from the property line, so not as directly impacted by noise as, even if it were, you know, there were a lot of disruptive noise,” he said.
Strautmanis said General Capital is committed to doing things with the apartment building to block noise from nearby the property.
“Those are things that are technical things that we can do to address like literally, you know, noise concerns you could have of a use next door,” he said.
Strautmanis said the project involves having a rental apartment community, rather than a condominium “where you could end up with situations where there’s legal battles between owners and use.”
“Basically, we own and manage this property, and we’ve had these situations,” he said.
Strautmanis said General Capital would be able to go through a process to non-renew any resident dissatisfied with living there, which would not be the same as an eviction.
“On an annual basis there’s verifications of residency to happen, and one of them could be simply that this resident is so disruptive or just is not a good fit,” he said.
Strautmanis said General Capital wouldn’t be looking at investing in the site if it didn’t believe in it.
“I mean, there’s literally millions of dollars at stake from our company’s perspective,” he said.
Schuette said he wasn’t as concerned about noise affecting the townhomes as with the senior apartment housing.
“The townhomes are not age restricted – just the apartment building is,” he said.
Schuette said fencing and landscaping are included in the site plan’s conditions of approval to address concerns about sound.
Village President Mary Kardoskee said a lot of people who live in Ashwaubenon told her there is a need for senior housing in the village.
“So I’ve asked them, if there were a senior housing project that was located on Mike McCarthy (Way) – and that’s a very active area, and we want that area even more activated – would you live there with knowing how busy it’s going to be?” she said. “And I’ve probably talked to – I don’t know the exact count – probably about nine or 10 people so far, and there’s only about three of them that have said ‘No.’ And the two of them that said ‘No’ were because they’re not leaving their house.”
Trustee Gary Paul said Ashwaubenon has been looking for senior housing for as long as he has been around the village.
“It’s a great project to continue researching and hopefully making it work in our village, and it’s something long overdue” he said.
Committee member Chris Atkinson said the location along Mike McCarthy Way is a great spot for senior housing.
“Seniors want to be active,” he said. “They want to go out.”
In addition to the site plan requiring final approval by the village board because the property is in the village’s Sports & Entertainment District, Schuette said the project is also subject to a development agreement between General Capital and the village board.
“The project is further contingent upon WHEDA (Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority) tax credits, which, again, General Capital will be applying for in mid December…,” he said. “The goal is to have a shovel-ready project at the time of the application so that WHEDA can look at it and say, ‘Yes, if we do award these credits, we know it’s a real project and hit the ground running following the tax credit award.’”
In other action, the committee approved another request from General Capital to make additions and renovations to the Orchard Ridge Apartment Complex at 956 Willard Dr.
Schuette said the site plan calls for making some additions to the existing apartment buildings as well as the addition of a clubhouse to the property.
“General Capital was awarded WHEDA tax credits to rehabilitate the development,” he said.
Schuette said handicapped accessible building additions will be located on the on the south elevation facing Willard Drive of the two central north-south-oriented buildings to provide better accommodations to those residents.
He said the clubhouse building will be located in the grassed courtyard toward the parking lot between the two easternmost buildings.
Conditions of approval include utilizing approvable exterior materials under the village code for the additions and the clubhouse.