Our issues with the Project

Our issues are outlined in the categories below. These are arranged in no particular order.

  • Height, scale , and density of the project in our neighborhood

  • Precedent set in Wauwatosa for future developments

  • Illegally contradicts the City Comprehensive plan

  • Neighborhood issues with Johnny Vassallo

  • Increased stress on traffic, city services, pollution, and the environment

Height, scale , and density of the project

The current project calls for a 25-story, 300 to 400 feet tall tower. The differing heights come from different documents submitted to the city.

The tallest buildings in Wauwatosa are the Children's Hospital West Tower, Mayfair North Tower, and the Renaissance all at 12 stories and around 150 feet tall. This building, at it's minimum, would be twice the height of these buildings!

In fact, if this building was in the City of Milwaukee, it would be tied for 11th tallest building in terms of height and in the range of 7th or 13th tallest in terms of actual height. A 25-story building does not belong in a neighborhood of single family homes!

Aerial View of project and neighborhood

If you are only familiar with the intersection of Bluemound and Mayfair, you may be unaware that there is an entire neighborhood tucked away behind Bluemound.

This aerial shot shows the footprint of the project (highlighted in red) and the rows of houses in the neighborhood (highlighted in yellow). As you can see there are a lot of homes that will be right next to this building.

Neighboring houses

This photo shows one of the houses closest to the development site. On the right is the parking lot that will be developed into the building and one of the entrances to its garage and the left is a single story house. There is no buffer or separation between this tower and someone's house!

Shadows over the neighborhood

This photo shows one of the developer's shadow studies at 9 AM. The building covers an entire city block and would prevent many people from seeing a sunrise from their windows or backyard! This height is irresponsible and impacts a lot of long time homeowners in the neighborhood.

Precedent set in Wauwatosa for future developments

This project, as you will see in the next section, illegally violates the City’s own zoning and development plans. If the City decides it can ignore its own development plans and zoning practices, there is little else to stop developers from building whatever and wherever they want in the city.

Imagine a 6 to 8 story tall apartment building along Menomonee River Parkway. Or how about 12-story apartment buildings on Milwaukee Avenue or North Avenue? Right now these areas, as well the current project site, are protected by zoning ordinances that stop developers from doing this. If the Plan Commission, Community Affairs Commission, and Common Council approve of these plans, then any arguments used to violate current zoning laws and plans can then be used to to undo the current protections that our "City of Homes" enjoys. It would essentially give developers free rein in Wauwatosa.

Illegally contradicts the City Comprehensive plan

In the Land Use Objectives of the City's Comprehensive Plan, it states the following objectives:

  1. Plan for a future land use pattern that accommodates the City’s future population and job growth, preserves the character of the City’s neighborhoods, encourages well-planned and attractive development, helps maintain property values, minimizes land use conflicts, and advances environmental sustainability.

  2. Support land uses and development projects that enhance the character of existing neighborhoods and complement surrounding land uses.

  3. Encourage the preservation of the City’s existing housing stock.

This development will destroy the character of our neighborhood and does not complement the surrounding land uses. In addition, it erodes the quality of our City's housing stock in the neighborhood, which is an extremely sought after asset in our city.

While our group supports development on this property, we also believe it should further the City's Comprehensive Plan that states (page 136): “Support Multi-Family Housing Options: Higher density housing has become an increasingly important component of the City’s overall housing stock. Well-designed multi-family development provides alternative housing options for seniors, young professionals, students, and other residents who either cannot yet afford or do not wish to live in or maintain a single-family home. Multi-family housing should include both renter-occupied (apartments) and owner-occupied (condos, townhouses) options. Too often, community resistance to higher density housing is a result of people’s experience with poorly designed multi-family developments that do not reflect the character of the community, or are generally unattractive. To address these issues, the City will continue to enforce design standards for these types of developments, (see recommendation below) and ensure that the scale of such developments is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood (also see the Land Use chapter recommendations).” The proposed price for units is much more expensive than most people’s monthly mortgage payments and would price out residents who want to live in the community but who currently cannot afford a mortgage. In addition, this statement highlights perfectly why we are against a project of this size as it does not reflect the character of the community and is not to scale of the surrounding neighborhood.

Neighborhood issues with Johnny Vassallo

The neighborhood has been forced deal with several issues with Johnny Vassallo, and he has proven himself to be untrustworthy in working with neighbors to make a better neighborhood. Below are some of these issues.

  1. Buying properties in the neighborhood and then allowing them to deteriorate and blight the neighborhood. Pictures below.

  2. Lying to residents about his overall plans with development on the block saying that this was the only thing he was working on and that there are no future plans or "phase 2." These comments were said at the recent neighborhood meeting in late August, but then in October he told reporters that he wants to buy the entire block (source: https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/10/23/wauwatosa-review-of-25-story-apartment-tower.html)

  3. Loud live music at Mo's Irish Pub that can be heard at night all the way down by Underwood Elementary School. Some neighbors have even reported windows shaking up to 2 blocks away from music being played.

  4. Unresponsive to neighborhood requests to clean up his properties.

Pictures of Vassallo owned properties

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Increased stress on traffic, city services, pollution, and the environment

The intersection of Bluemound and Mayfair is one of the busiest in all of Wisconsin according to DOT traffic studies. This project would add 354 units of people (if filled) and has parking for over 400 cars. What will the traffic impact be during morning and afternoon rush hour with all these cars? In the traffic study provided by the developers, they fail to address the residents that will travel down the small residential street of Mt. Vernon to go West on Bluemound or to find a way to go North on Mayfair without crossing 2 lanes of traffic on Bluemound. The traffic study also shows the apartments will have access to the alley between Bluemound and Mt. Vernon but nowhere in the architectural plans is that shown.

With the amount of units added to this corner, what will be the impact of the increase in demand of city services and resources such as water, sewage, gas, storm water, fire department, police calls, and postal services? What will the glare from the windows look like for traffic on Bluemound? Will this building disrupt migratory paths for birds or cause unnecessary bird deaths like other buildings in downtown Milwaukee? Will this building trap exhaust fumes due to changes in wind patterns? Can the ground support a building of this weight without damaging the train tunnel? And finally, what impact will this have on our neighborhood of small but beloved homes: two years of loud and dirty construction, traffic, noise, litter, crime? Who can predict the result what an influx of 350+ new neighbors located on small 1.5 acre plot may cause?

A lot of these questions have yet to be answered and in the rush to build may not be answered until the building is complete and we as a community are left to figure it out and deal with the consequences