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Continental Properties considering multifamily development in Mequon

Demand for rental units driving proposed 240-unit apartment complex

A rendering of the proposed "Springs at Mequon" development on Port Washington Road, provided to the Planning Commission by Continental Properties.

A rendering of the proposed "Springs at Mequon" development on Port Washington Road, provided to the Planning Commission by Continental Properties.

Jan. 16, 2013

Mequon - Milwaukee-based developer Continental Properties is eyeing property on Port Washington just north of Concordia University, with plans for 240-unit multifamily complex.

Plans for "Springs at Mequon" at 13332 N. Port Washington Road show 12, 20-unit buildings with a mix of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments ranging from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet, along with a club house, in-ground pool and 13 detached garages.

Continental Multi-Family Development Director Ian Martin, while seeking feedback from the Planning Commission on Monday, said rents would likely range between $800 to $2,000.

"My hope is that this is a preliminary consultation," said Martin, adding that with city input Continental can decide "whether to go forward - or not."

He told the commission that demographic swings, decreasing homeownership, pent-up demand, and a lack of rental space in Mequon drew the developer's interest.

"It becomes a pretty attractive spot," Martin said.

When asked by commissioner David Romoser whether the development would house young couples with small children - a clear allusion to the suggestion that development could help bolster the school district's dwindling enrollment numbers - Martin said young families are "not a big demographic for us" and that Continental is focusing on young professionals and empty-nesters.

"Those are our prime demographics," Martin said. He did say, however, that the Springs could be a "gateway" to Mequon for young people who would buy in the area after renting.

Officials point out problems

City officials noted that there are difficulties with the plan. Water and sewer would be costly to run up to the site of the development, and Continental's plan doesn't conform to any specific city zoning category. Compared to the city's RM (multiple family) district zoning requirements, the Springs as designed is significantly more dense - 14.8 units per acre instead of 6.4 - and has less parking on about half as much space. For the site, the city's Land Use Committee recommended density similar to Mequon developments like Cedar Gables and Apple Orchards, between 10 to 15 units per acre.

Assistant Director of Community Development Jac Zader added that the city's parking requirements in the RM district are "excessive."

Factoring in time to have sewer service cleared by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and infrastructure like sewer and water installed - which Mayor Curt Gielow indicated Continental would need to partially fund - Martin said he could see breaking ground in the spring of 2014 and opening the apartments in late 2014 or early 2015.

Alderman Dan Abendroth opposed the development outright, pointing to the relatively high density.

"I don't think it's a good fit," Abendroth said.

Mayor Gielow, on the other hand, supported the development.

"I think it's exactly what our community needs," he said. "Our community is getting older. We need that kind of (younger) resident."

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