Stop Terrence Wall's Downtown Waunakee, Wisconsin Luxury Apartment Complex
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Waunakee has already lost most of its character and identity, from the closing of the O'Malley Farm Cafe by a developer, the construction of Southbridge, Westbridge, Kilkenny Farms, and the addition to Savannah Village, the in-progress T. Wall Bishops Bay development, the potential big box store at Woodland Crest, to the continuing destruction of the rural farmland surrounding our village, which is creating a wealthy playground. The village demolished historic homes and affordable/single-family housing on Madison and Main Streets for multiple luxury apartment complexes and a KFC restaurant, most of Main Street's trees for road expansion, and downtown/historic buildings for a currently half-empty retail complex and expansion of Kwik Trip. Soon, another part of our village will succumb to this epidemic. Main Street in Waunakee already has three large buildings; the Madison and Main Apartments, the Hovde Building (Lone Girl Brewing), and the proposed Hovde Apartments across the street. However, at Monday's Plan Commission meeting, Terrence Wall presented a proposal for a 4 story, 175-unit apartment complex with a swimming pool on the south side of Main Street's 200 block between West and Fish streets. This block is home to many owner occupied single-family homes and local businesses such as a bike shop, tanning studio, tax prep firm, loan office, furnace repair company, a few rental properties, and a nail salon. Additional historic homes would also need to be demolished, including Waunakee's famous 100 year-old Packer House pictured above. Here are the concerns we have with the proposal.
The building will have no public retail suites.
All of the local businesses listed above would have to find new space in our community, which is expensive to rent and would not give them the visibility they have at their current location, which could result in many of them closing for good. Terrence Wall states in the Tribune that "more residents would bring in customers and fill retail vacancies on Main Street." However, Mr. Wall would actually be eliminating retail opportunities and popular local businesses from our community. While it would have limited retail, it would be for residents only, such as a leasing office and fitness center.
Waunakee already has a lack of affordable housing, yet gentrification in our village and county continue to grow faster than ever before.
Waunakee's officials are trying to encourage wealthy people to move to our community and eliminate the middle class of locals that have lived here for much longer. The Madison metro has grown a whopping 25% since 1990, creating major gentrification and affordability problems. The affordable housing on the north side of Main Street's 200 block was recently removed for an apartment development, as well as Main Street's 300 block and North Madison Street's 100 block in the late 2000's. This is our village's way of saying that they are not interested in maintaining/having affordable housing in our community, and they seem to have no issue tearing down rentals for additional luxury apartments. There are no official plans for adding any affordable housing anytime soon. The Waunakee-Westport Comprehensive Plan includes a portion about having/maintaining/adding affordable housing, yet the village wants to do and has done the complete opposite. With the elimination of these properties and many others that have been removed in the past 20 years, Waunakee (and arguably the rest of Dane County) will soon be a bedroom community restricted to only upper class people and a "wealthy paradise", something we disagree with. While we agree that it is important for the community to grow, Waunakee should build working class neighborhoods like North Ridge or Sixmile Creek instead of large wealthy ones like Kilkenny Farms, and take a conservative growth path from here on out. We need to ensure Waunakee and Westport are open to everyone, regardless of income level.
Waunakee needs senior housing, not apartments aimed at young adults.
Our Village Board's focus should be on adding senior and assisted living housing in town. A housing study done by the Capital Area Regional Plan Commission found that Waunakee's population is made up mostly of middle-aged people and school-aged children. However, when these children go to college, they would be more likely to live in downtown Madison where it is walkable to campus and has more amenities. These empty nesters will then retire and eventually consider senior housing, which there will be a growing need for in the next few years. However, we are making many strides in this area already with construction such as Home Again in Kilkenny Farms, but the village is considering demolishing American Legion Post 360 on Cross Street for senior housing. Additional senior housing should not be high-end, but more intended for working-class citizens.
175 units is too big for Waunakee and creates an urban feel.
The Madison and Main Apartments have 78 units, and the Hovde Apartments will have 101 units. The structure is planned to have a swimming pool and underground parking. Underground parking and massive apartments would give our community an urban feel, something we feel would be out of place here and takes away the suburban and rural feel. The underground parking would also create traffic concerns on Second Street, which contains a plethora of historic structures. If these apartments are built, there will be few single-family homes left on Main Street, and there would probably be more apartment towers built down the road and in the future if this complex is allowed to completion.
Historic homes and buildings would be demolished.
Second and Main Streets in this area are made up of historic homes built when our community was started. Taking down these homes will erode the history of our town and would not exist for future generations. Waunakee's famous 100 year-old green and gold Packer House would have to be demolished if the proposal is approved, as well as the Wanabike building, which was formerly a farm implement store. Waunakee has already removed the historic Carl F. Statz Building (Kwik Trip location), a farmhouse on West Main Street (current location of KFC), most of Main Street's trees, multiple affordable housing buildings, and Main Street retail buildings (current location of Kwik Trip/Hovde Building). Waunakee also currently is LACKING a Historical Preservation Commission or a Historical Society, and we are one of the few communities in Dane County either of those entities. Demolishing historic structures is not a continuation of our village's rural heart and spirit. Structures with agricultural heritage are also supposed to be preserved in the Comprehensive Plan. What will the village choose to remove next?
The area surrounding the complex is single-family residential.
The neighborhood surrounding the planned complex is made up primarily of single-family homes built in the early 1900's. Many people in the neighborhood live there because of historical charm, but also the small-town feel. Having this complex constructed will increase noise and traffic and eliminate the small-town feel.
We want to create a Waunakee Historic Preservation Commission, which we currently do not have. We are one of the only communities in Dane County without a historical society or preservation commission. Several surrounding communities, including Westport, have historical societies/preservation committees that work hard to preserve history and buildings in their respective communities. We need to extend this action even further by designating our Main Street and original plat as a historic district to preserve and protect downtown. Lodi has THREE historic districts. Why don't we have any?
Together, we can prevent this apartment complex from being built and work to establish a historical preservation committee. The small town feel of our community has been depleted in the past 15 years, and it will be gone completely if the Wall project is constructed.
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