Stop Terrence Wall's Downtown Waunakee, Wisconsin 175-Unit 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 Savannah Village by Don Tierney, Terrence Wall's in-progress Bishops Bay development (sign our petition to stop it here), 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 preparation 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 affordable housing on the north side of Main Street's 300 block was recently removed for an apartment development. 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 affordable housing, yet the village wants to do the complete opposite. With the elimination of these properties and many others that have been removed in the past 20 years, Waunakee 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.

It will create a cavern effect similar to that found on Madison's East Washington Avenue.

With only tall apartment buildings on our Main Street, it will create a shadowed "cavern" effect and make Waunakee have an appearance similar to downtown Madison or other larger cities. This will make our community less unique or special compared to others such as Lodi or Cross Plains.

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 the alley behind the building, which backs up to historic homes across the street and would need to be repaved/widened. 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.

The north side of Second Street in this area is made up of historic homes built when our community was started. Taking down these homes will take away from 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. Waunakee has already removed the historic Carl F. Statz Building, 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 without one. Demolishing historic structures is not a continuation of our village's rural heart and spirit. 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. 

 Our proposed solution if the development process proceeds is to require a series of 10 neighborhood meetings at a location in the neighborhood, such as Arthouse Preschool, the Fire Station, Healthy Glow Tanning, or the narthex at St. John's. The neighborhood residents will create a council of 7 residents, and if the council votes the proposal down, the development cannot be constructed. While the village has SUGGESTED that Mr. Wall meet with local residents, they are not mandating that he do so. From this week's Waunakee Tribune, Mr. Wall states that "he has a good record of working with neighbors on projects." However, with developments such as Bishops Bay in Middleton, input from residents, particularly on Briggs Road about decreases in property values, was ignored and the development proceeded without their thoughts or concerns being considered. We need to ensure that resident input is considered thoroughly to prevent this complex from being approved and constructed. At the bare minimum, there would a public hearing for rezoning of the properties in question if the proposal proceeds. Our organization would like to work with village officials to make the rate of development more gradual, particularly with the upcoming Woodland West project and to begin the process of becoming a city, similar to the way it was done in Lodi. To accomplish this, we are endorsing Erin Moran and Joe Zitzelsberger for Village Board in the spring election. Currently, there are no Village Board representatives that reside north of Main Street, and both Joe and Erin live in that area. We need to not re-elect the pro growth trustees in order to begin the city process.

We also want to create a Waunakee Historic Preservation Commission and Historical Society, which we currently do not have. We are one of the only communities in Dane County without a historical society. Westport, DeForest, Sun Prairie, Madison, Mount Horeb, Cottage Grove, Cross Plains, and Stoughton all have historical societies/museums/preservation committees that have worked hard for many years 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 for future generations to appreciate and prevent further building demolition/unhealthy redevelopment projects.

Together, we can prevent this apartment complex from being built and work to establish a historical society and historic district.

Check out our other petitions that support the community!

T Wall Apartment Proposal - Waunakee Tribune

Bishops Bay Residents Angry about Ignored Input

Tribune Article About Petition

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