Deviations from plans in Prairieville Apartments development prompts rebuke from city panel

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City planning staff will more closely monitor development projects in Waukesha at the urging of city officials who recently got an up-close look at the impact a lack of such monitoring can have.

The case in point was local developer Alan Huelsman's downtown Prairieville Apartment complex, which was completed in 2015. According to planning staff and Huelsman, the project, at 260 South St., was not built as approved, and some of the changes made – all without the plan commission's blessing – were immediately noticeable.

The Prairieville project appeared on the commission's agenda because planning staff called for several changes to be made to the building, primarily on the first floor, so it would more closely resemble what had been approved. Those changes include the addition of storefront glass, frosted glass garage doors and more architectural details such as awnings and additional masonry.

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Prairieville reaction

Mayor Shawn Reilly, chairman of the commission, chastised Huelsman for deviating from previously approved plans and urged planning staff to monitor such projects more closely when possible to avoid similar situations in the future.

"We're going to be much more cautious going through your plans" going forward, Reilly told Huelsman.

Huelsman said during an April 12 plan commission meeting that city staff began calling him virtually as soon as the project was complete to complain about the changes he made.

"In hindsight, I should have come back to the plan commission," Huelsman said.

City Planner Maria Pandazi said her department does not have the staff to make personal checks on each development project in the city, but called the Prairieville incident a "wake-up call."

She said she would explore options, including possibly withholding occupancy permits, to ensure projects are completed to approved specifications.

The commission approved the latest revisions unanimously and tacked on the condition that it be completed by Oct. 30.

Also downtown

Prairieville was not the only downtown apartment complex on the commission's agenda. The panel also approved a certified survey map joining two properties at the future site of the Clearpoint apartment complex.

That development, expected to be complete by mid-to-late 2018, will be built just west of the corner at Main and Barstow streets.

Clearpoint will have 56 one-bedroom units and eight two-bedroom units atop two levels of indoor parking. The parking – 98 covered spaces – will be situated in the lower level and on the first floor, with residences on the second through fifth floors. It will be built in part with $1.3 million in public funds.

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