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Thiensville board mulls housing mix

Trustees want high end projects

Dec. 3, 2013

Thiensville — Elected officials have an uncompromising attitude when it comes to future development or redevelopment projects throughout the village.

The attitude? High end or bust.

That was the consensus when the Village Board, meeting as a Committee of the Whole, discussed its options when it comes to the available and potential housing stock in the village.

According to a report from Village Administrator Dianne Robertson, Thiensville's roughly 1,500 residences are about 55 percent single-family homes, 19 percent condominiums, and 26 percent apartments. Robertson noted that the single-family homes number was a little concerning to her, and in her estimation, should be higher.

Trustee John Treffert noted the available space to build houses is essentially exhausted, leaving officials the most control over how many apartments and condos will go up throughout the village.

"We're not going to get any more single family," Treffert said. "The question is how many apartments and condos do we want?"

In the wake of the so-called "Great Recession" of 2008, condominiums have fallen out of favor and demand has increased for apartments, Village President Van Mobley said, making officials' choice center around whether they want apartments, and if so, how many. Given the limited space in the village, Mobley said the choice then becomes whether to redevelop older apartment buildings into new apartments or switch out apartment buildings for new retail storefronts.

"It all a question of what you want," Mobley said.

Regardless of what the board decides, it needs to have a clear intent in order to produce solid proposals from developers, Mobley said.

"Realistically speaking, we're at the point now where we need to know which direction we're going in," Mobley told the committee. "Dealing with the development community, they don't care which way you want to go, but they want a straight answer so they don't waste their time and money."

Though the committee didn't have specific projects or numbers of apartments in mind, the consensus was that Thiensville should promote and prioritize high-end developments.

"The emphasis should be on higher quality. I don't want to see something average," Trustee Ken Kucharski said. "I don't think we need to put up with lesser buildings."

Trustee David Lange agreed, saying it would be a boon to the village to update some of its older apartment stock.

Treffert agreed.

"Whatever developments we do, it should tend to be the higher end," he said. "I'm sure every community says that, but it's up to us to enforce it."

Though there was no formal action Monday, Mobley noted that the consensus is a good "filter" through which elected officials can run any proposals in the future.

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