Residents get Mercy project pushed back
Mercy Housing Lakefront’s plan to build a nine-story affordable housing project will be pushed beyond 2010 after Milwaukee neighborhood associations raised concerns.
“I feel like this needs a little more refinement,” said Alderman Nik Kovac, who represents the area. “It needs a lot more back and forth.”
Mercy Housing, Chicago, this month requested to buy a parking lot from the city of Milwaukee for its estimated $12.7 million project, which includes 75 apartments and eight townhouses. The development, planned for a triangular lot bordered by North Murray, East Thomas and North Farwell avenues, would be built on the city parking lot and land owned by U.S. Bank.
But two neighborhood groups asked for more details about the project and, after Mercy presented a plan at a neighborhood meeting, raised concerns about its height, size and effect on traffic and parking, said Dawn McCarthy, president-elect of the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood Association Inc.
“I appreciated that Mercy held the meeting for the neighborhood association and showed us the plans,” she said. “It seemed to me at the end of the meeting the consensus was there needed to be more conversation.”
The board of directors of the Greenwich Village Association voted to oppose the project earlier this month.
Mercy needs state affordable-housing tax credits to pay for the project, but needs city approval for an option to buy the city parking lot before it can apply for the credits. Friday is the deadline to apply for the credits, and Kovac is delaying consideration of the land sale so the developer and neighbors can work out their differences.
“We’re going to try to keep the urgency going,” Kovac said, “because part of the problem was this all came in last minute. Next year, it won’t come in last minute.”
Kovac said the project has positives. It will bring more people into the neighborhood who will shop at the businesses and restaurants on North Avenue, he said. But, Kovac said, the nine-story building may be too large, considering there are single-family houses around it. He said a six- or seven-story building may be more appropriate.
“It certainly calls for density,” Kovac said, “but I don’t think it calls for towers.”