Another cool reception for Harbor Campus plans Print
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 19:07

Echoing concerns of design board, Port commission tables vote on proposed expansion of senior living facility

    Revised plans for the Harbor Campus in Port Washington met a cool reception at the Plan Commission last week, with members echoing some of the concerns that the city’s Design Review Board had expressed earlier in the week.
    Plan Commission members said they would like to see a new independent living apartment building on the site built farther away from houses on Holden Street, suggesting several ways this could potentially occur.
    They also suggested that something be done to improve the existing Harbor Campus buildings, noting the previous plan for the campus would have made significant changes to the structures.
    “What I really liked about the original plan is along Walters Street, it really created a nice entry,” Ald. Mike Ehrlich, an architect and member of the commission, said.
    Commission member Tony Matera agreed, saying many people were excited to see something planned for the existing senior apartment building.
    “Is there any option to update that older building?” he asked. “To put lipstick on the pig?”
    But Amy Schoenemann of Tarantino & Co. told the commission that the owners have opted to spend their money on the interior of the structure instead, saying they have spent $1.2 million on mechanical improvements and expect to spend another $1 million in spring on major interior renovations.
    “We’d rather invest our money inside the building,” Schoenemann said.
    There will be some improvements to the existing campus as the owners raze a garage and some accessory structures and reconfigure the driveway to create a boulevard entrance to what will become the grand entrance near the existing Harbor Club entry, she said.
    That new entrance, Schoenemann said, will give the site the feeling of a campus.
    The previous plan, which called for sweeping changes to the existing campus and the creation of a grand entrance off Walters Street, had to be scrapped due to budgetary concerns, Schoenemann said.
    Because it’s not economically feasible to remove the existing boiler building — the centerpiece of the previous plan — she said the owners have elected to make interior improvements to the building, a former hospital turned senior living facility, and expand the campus.
    Now, the plan is to create a master entrance near the Harbor Club, Schoenemann said, extending and enhancing the driveway on the west side of the property to the south and adding landscaping.
    The expanded driveway, which will include a new parking area near the Harbor Club, will lead to a new three-story, 66-unit independent senior living apartment building with underground parking.
    The plans also include an expansion of the existing memory care unit, and several smaller multi-family, independent-living buildings on the southeast side of the property.
    Plans for those independent-living buildings have not been finalized, Schoenemann said.
    The new senior apartment building will be 35 feet from the Holden Street homes, Schoenemann said, more than the 20 feet required by code.
    But commission members said they would like to see the building pulled farther to the east, especially since balconies on the upper floors of the building will overlook the existing houses.
    Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven, a member of the commission, suggested the property owners may be able to vacate an easement and move the entire building to the south and east a bit.
    Member Brenda Fritsch, an architect, also suggested that the building could be designed with fewer floors on the west end overlooking the neighbors, lessening the impact, and more floors added in the center and east ends of the structure.
    “I think the internal investment is much needed,” Fritsch added.
    Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development, also suggested the commission hold off on recommending any rezoning for the south end of the site until plans for that are finalized.
    Because of the many questions about the plan, commission members decided to hold off on approving the concept plan and making any rezoning recommendations.
    But because this could delay work on the campus, they agreed to hold a special meeting on Jan. 11, since a rezoning recommendation could then be considered by the Common Council and approved by early February.
    The Design Review Board, which had also expressed concerns about the revised plans, will meet on Jan. 9 to revisit the proposal.
    “If we can get a concept plan that we’re a little more comfortable with, I don’t think you’re going to have a problem with rezoning,” Ehrlich said, noting there is a need for additional senior housing in the community.