Plans for a proposed razing and redevelopment of the Gasthaus restaurant, which shuttered about two weeks ago, have again come before a city panel and again been turned away.
The Waukesha Plan Commission July 13 denied preliminary approval to the project's site and architectural plans, and denied a conditional use permit for a standalone restaurant that's part of the same proposal.
According to planning documents, Kansas-based Klover Architects is looking to build a mutli-tenant retail center at the corner of Silvernail Road and Grandview Boulevard — where the Gasthaus once stood — and a free-standing Panda Express restaurant south of the retail plaza.
Commissioners and city staff shared concerns about the land-use intensity of the project, how much more traffic it will generate and the negative effect it could have on surrounding businesses.
Many of the same concerns were mentioned at a commission meeting in April when plans for the project were first discussed publicly.
Denial of the current plans have not killed the project, so the development may eventually move forward, but not without more changes, commissioners said.
Effect on businesses
Commissioners Peter Bartels, Andy Reiland and Aaron Hall all said they voted to deny the project because of the perceived negative effect it would have on surrounding business, primarily north of the development.
Business owners there were concerned because discussion about the project has frequently involved talk of closing off a median that currently offers left-turn access to some convenience-style businesses — a gas station and car service garage — to eastbound drivers on Silvernail Road.
David Schmidt, owner of the Mobil gas station, said, 'This (project) could possibly cause our businesses to fail.'
Bartels, an alderman whose district includes the site of the proposed development, said he couldn't vote to approve the project.
'I do have a major concern with how this (project) would affect the existing businesses,' he said.
Planning documents indicate city staff shared at least some of the same concerns, saying 'Staff believes that the land use intensity, including multiple drive-thrus, and the large multi-tenant building will be too intensive for this site.'
Despite the denial, the updated version of the plans was met with some approval by staff and commissioners who thanked the developer for working with the city on the project.
Some changes included the removal of one drive-thru on the west side of the property and the redesign of the plaza to reflect more polished architecture, with the inclusion spaces for outdoor dining and a to-be-determined corner feature that would highlight the Silvernail and Grandview intersection as a 'gateway' into the city.
Accorrding to City Planner Maria Pandazi, plans for the project have been discussed for at least several months and have already undergone multiple revisions.
There was no indication at the July 13 meeting if or when the plans would be brought before the commission again.
The vote on the project came just about two weeks after the iconic Gasthaus restaurant, which had been a staple on the Silvernail and Grandview corner for 33 years, closed its doors for the final time.
The restaurant's last day in business was June 25, and under the current proposal would be razed to make way for the development.
The Weissgerber family announced late last month that they were going to sell the property following a dispute with the estate of the late Gasthaus owner Jack Weissgerber.
Hans Weissgerber, Jack's brother, said at the time that the creation of the Gasthaus was considered a personal achievement that made the family proud.
Waukesha County tax records still list Jack Weissgerber's estate as the owner of the property. It has an estimated fair market value of $839,100.