The Platteville Common Council April 26 gave the first approval to the St. Augustine University Parish student housing project.
Before a standing-room-only crowd in the Municipal Building council chambers, the council approved 6–1 a Planned Unit Development designation for the project, overruling a Plan Commission recommendation March 7 to keep the project zoned R-3 multifamily residential.
District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian voted against the PUD.
The project would replace the four houses on the block and the current St. Augustine building with 46 units of housing for 144 students on the south and east sides of the block — West Pine Street, Bradford Street, Greenwood Avenue and South Hickory Street. The north and west sides would include a new chapel building and student center, with a courtyard separating student housing from the chapel building and student center.
Steve Harms of Tri-North Builders said the project is the “result of a lot of positive growth and outlook at the Newman Center on campus in the past four or five years,” and its “positive impact on the students; a lot of them are here tonight.”
The project is proposed as two stages, beginning with student housing.
“We’re bringing a $10 million investment into this community,” said Harms.
St. Augustine development director Steve Davies said the Newman Center students are “bright; they are good people; the type of people that is attracted to this are high-quality people who add to the community. … What I would invite anybody to do, whether you’re for or against the project, is go down to the Newman Center and see what’s going on. … It’s energizing, and it gives hope for the future.”
The project now has 141 parking spots, though it does not meet the R-3 requirement parking for 75 percent of residents on site. The project has 85 spots on-site, with 37 of them underground, less than the R-3 on-site requirement of 112 sites. An additional 56 spots would be located at St. Mary Catholic Church.
Harms said the developers would be seeking tax-exempt status, but “either
See St. AUGUSTINE page 11A υ
way, whether it’s a PILOT [Payment In Lieu of Taxes] or we are assessed property taxes, you will get your full share of property taxes.”
The project goes against R-3 zoning requirements in three major areas — building setbacks, density and on-site parking. Director of Community Planning and Development Joe Carroll said developers had modified the plans “to address at least some of these concerns.”
Several speakers in favor of the project identified themselves as students who attend St. Augustine activities but would graduate before the project is completed.
Emily Stanek said St. Augustine hosts 20 different Bible studies. “We’re growing, and we’re outgrowing the building that was originally meant for us, and there’s nowhere for us to expand,” she said.
“We give back to the community in a lot of ways,” said John Skinkis, listing paying for groceries for Wednesday night dinners, going to Badger Brothers Coffee on Saturday mornings and having 175 students at events at Steve’s Pizza Palace.
“I’ve seen changes in St. Augustine over the last 10 years,” said Jim Rosemeyer, cochair of the St. Augustine core committee. “I know their history. This is about the future, this is about the kids; this is not about the past.”
The other cochair, Lee Eggers, said, “This is one of the most important projects I’ve ever worked on.”
Those who spoke against the project all said they were not opposed to the project.
“But I think it should go through R-3 zoning,” said Historic Preservation Commission member Garry Prohaska, who said the project is near two historic districts. “I have a problem with density, and dumping this tremendous amount of parking on Bradford.
“I don’t think people send their kids here because they have a Catholic community. It’s a great university; that’s why they come here.”
Two building owners, Isaac Shanley and Lonnie Holze, both mentioned density and parking, including parking they were required to install at their projects.
Shanley questioned off-site parking at St. Mary’s. “Most of the students prefer to have their vehicle at close hand,” he said.
“Whatever goes on the north side of Pine Street should apply to the south side of Pine Street,” said Holze.
When Kilian asked about reducing the project by one floor, Harms said it was “unfeasible” with “slightly more than one-third” of the housing units removed from the project.
Kilian moved to remove one floor from the project. His motion died for lack of a second.
The project will still require a Specific Implementation Plan and a developer’s agreement for construction to begin.