A debate surrounding the planned height of the former M&I buildings as part of its renovations quickly turned to lower ground as several aldermen raised concerns about parking issues the addition could create.
The council approved the special permit on Tuesday allowing developer Gertjan van den Broek to move forward with plans for the buildings at 122 N. Franklin St. — the property will reach 48 feet in height at its tallest point and city code only allows buildings to be 35 feet in height.
That approval, however, came after a lengthy debate over whether the council was putting the cart before the horse by granting the permit.
The height allows the developer to build its planned 18 condos, as well as retail space on the first floor, with a parking ramp for some cars below the structure — but Ald. Jim Vollmar said he's concerned the condos won't sell without adequate reserved parking, and the city certainly can not give up much of its currently public spots.
"How are we going to provide parking for these people?" he said. "I think this request is premature. I want this to be a great project for the city, I think (van den Broek has) got a great start. I think he needs to do a little more homework. … I think he needs to have some assurance from the city (on what parking is available)."
But City Administrator Mark Grams said he doesn't think finding parking is an issue in the city, and that van den Broek is aware of some of the options that will be available to his tenants.
"There's not a parking issue, there are spaces that are available," Grams said, adding that condo owners could apply for overnight permits in the nearby lots, as one option, or — at worst — have a short walk to get home.
"People are willing to park a block or two away," in places such as Cedarburg, he added.
Ald. Dan Becker pointed out that determining the height of the building is actually important to do first because "that obviously dictates the parking they will need."
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