Preliminary approval of the latest proposal for a new downtown apartment complex has been temporarily stalled after the city's plan commission reviewed the project and outlined a number of concerns about its design.

The commission unanimously approved a conditional-use permit for the development, dubbed Clearpoint, at its Aug. 24 meeting but also voted to table action on preliminary site and architectural plans for the project pending further revisions. The proposal calls for a five-story, 64-unit apartment building to be constructed between Main Street Plaza and the former Panos building just west of Main and Barstow streets.

Sterling Investments, a Brookfield-based development company, has proposed the roughly 110,000-square-foot project.

The primary concerns cited by commissioners revolved around perceived problems with the building's architecture. Some commissioners also suggested implementing retail space along the front of the building facing Main Street.

A time line for when the project will again appear before commissioners was not specified at the meeting. (The commission meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of every month.)

Architectural issues

City staff and commissioners recommended some changes to the project's design. Some suggestions concerned more refined details, such as increasing landscaping on various aspects of the development and fencing off open spaces on either side of the apartment building.

However, commissioners R.G. Keller, an architect, and Joan Francoeur both said they'd like to see the project better utilize its proximity to the Fox River and the downtown riverwalk.

"I still think the building needs work," Keller said.

Developer Marcus Felker said he was willing to work with the city on the design, but added that certain aspects of the building had to remain intact in order for the project to be economically feasible.

"I worry that if we have to go too far and changing stuff, it starts to move the economics to a point that we're just not going to be able to do it," he said.

Plans call for the building to have 56 one-bedroom units and eight two-bedroom units atop two levels of indoor parking. The parking — 98 covered spaces and four surface spaces — would be situated in the lower level and on the first floor, with residences on the second through fifth floors.

Retail space?

Commissioners were split on whether the project should include retail spaces on its first floor. The project is not currently a mixed-use development.

Keller and Commissioner Peter Bartels voiced support for the inclusion of retail tenants, but Commissioner Andy Reiland and Mayor Shawn Reilly, the commission's chairman, said they weren't sold on that idea.

District 4 Alderman Joe Pieper, who attended the meeting, said the inclusion of retail spaces in the project could, from an economic standpoint, prevent Clearpoint from becoming a reality.

"We have plenty of empty storefronts downtown as it is," he said.

According to planning documents, a community room and a fitness center would occupy large portions of the first floor of the building.

Project cost

Community Development Director Jennifer Andrews said Felker has applied for about $1.3 million in tax incremental financing district funding for the project. The development is valued at $13 million, she said.

Both Andrews and Felker said they would be meeting this week to hammer out the details of any possible TIF funding. Those details will have to be presented to the city before construction on the project begins.

If ultimately approved, Clearpoint would be the latest in a recent spate of apartment developments proposed for or constructed in downtown Waukesha. Those apartment complexes have either already been built or are still being planned. The Main Street Apartments, just west of the Clearpoint proposal, started the trend in the late 1990s.

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