A five-story, 96-unit apartment building was approved for a large site just south of E. Brady St. today. The Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee unanimously approved a zoning change for the project.
The proposed building would be developed by Klein Development Inc. on a vacant lot at 1632 N. Franklin Pl. The lot, which city records list at 42,459 square feet, was the site of a long closed Boys Club that was demolished in 2016. The development team, KC Franklin Partners LLC, acquired the site in August 2015.
Area alderman Nik Kovac has shepherded the project through a number of meetings. In September of last year Kovac held a neighborhood meeting on the project, which at the time was to be 10 stories and 140 units. Neighbors expressed a number of concerns according to Kovac, and the developers made a number of changes. Those changes impressed Kovac, with the alderman stating “this is the most significant change we’ve had to a building following a community meeting.”
The development team, which includes Klein brothers Joe and Mike as well as Jeno Cataldo, dropped the height of the building to five stories, reduced the unit count and consolidated all parking garage entrances to the east side of the building along the currently one-way N. Arlington St. Pedestrian entrances and elevators will be included on both N. Arlington Pl. and N. Franklin Pl.
Eppstein Uhen Architects is designing the building. Firm principal Chris Gallagher walked the committee through the proposed building’s design and materials, including passing samples around. Much of the first floor, which would be primarily used for parking, would be covered in brick. The upper floors, with recessed balconies, would be wrapped in a facade made of white metal panels and a dark wood composite. Gallagher described the material makeup as “an irregular pattern that creates some visual interest.”
Kovac is clearly sold on the design, telling his fellow committee members “with the right materials this could be a really unique, amazing design. With the wrong materials it could look really cheap. For instance, if there were any EIFS it could look like a Burger King.” Kovac went on to note that “I do think this is unique.” The alderman noted that while it would be impossible to design a building to please everyone on the East Side, he was sympathetic to the notion that every new building looks the same.
Kovac, who at one point called the project “adventuresome architecture,” noted that when the developers originally approached him and the Department of City Development they were seeking a 14-story tower and that the developers could have made a reasonable case to be granted a building of that height. The proposed building is next to a city-owned senior housing high-rise that is approximately 24 stories tall, yet within a neighbor that includes a number of structures that are four stories or less. The developers came back with a building that was 10 stories and 140 units, but ultimately cut that to five floors after meeting with local stakeholders.
The building would include a substantial amount of parking. Plans call for 133 stalls split over the first-floor and an underground level, providing a ratio of 1.39 stalls per unit. The building will be a mix of studios (24), one-bedroom (64) and two-bedroom (32) units.
The 157,000 square-foot development would cost approximately $20 million to build and have rents ranging from $1,500 to $2,000. Developer Joe Klein has previously said he hopes to being construction on the project as soon as possible.
The zoning change still needs approval from the full Common Council.