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Street vacated for downtown Platteville restaurant project
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Many Platteville residents may not have known where Jones Street was before the proposed downtown Platteville brewpub project next to Steve’s Pizza Palace was announced.

Jones Street is now 12 feet smaller after the Platteville Common Council voted 5–1 Jan. 12 to abandon part of the street to allow eastward expansion of the Steve’s building for the Updraft brewpub and two restaurants.

John Patakos, owner of Steve’s Pizza, at 175 W. Main St., had proposed to discontinue the northern 32 feet of Jones Street, which connected the alley north of Hartig Drug to Main Street until most of the street was vacated in 1975. The council instead voted to discontinue the western 12 feet of that northern 32 feet, leaving a 24-foot-wide street for vehicle access.

The space will be used for brewpub equipment on the ground floor and for two new restaurants on the second and third floors of his project of about 3,400 square feet.

District 4 Ald. Ken Kilian voted against the project, saying he wanted to table the vote. Common Council president Eileen Nickels did not participate in the debate.

The next step for the project was this week’s meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission meeting, which will have to approve certificates of appropriateness for the expansion. The commission approved a certificate of appropriateness for the demolition of the Viewpoint Graphics building at 155 W. Main St. That building and the building at 45 S. Chestnut St. are being demolished for parking. See The Journal next week.

The council vote came at the end of two hours of discussion, including opposition from business owners in the area over parking issues.

Dan Dreessens of Delta 3 Engineering said the area around Steve’s now has 17 or 18 stalls, though it’s “in reality about 10 or 11 legal-size parking stalls” of 9 feet by 22 feet, the current Municipal Code-required size. The proposal would put five stalls on the east side and six stalls on the south side.

“Vacating Jones Street really changes nothing in regard to the public parking that exists,” said Patakos’ attorney, Mike olds. 

The brewpub is required to provide 30 stalls — 75 percent of the requirement for new commercial construction outside downtown — within one-quarter mile of the building, which from Steve’s would be as far north as St. Mary Catholic Church, as far east as Heiser Ace Hardware, as far south as McGregor Plaza, and as far west as UW–Platteville parking lot 2 across from Ullsvik Hall on South Hickory Street. Parking within one-quarter mile would include the Mound City Bank lot Patakos plans to rent (0.13 miles away), and city parking lot 6 on ? Street (0.22 miles).

Dreessens said Platteville Fire Department officers say the proposal has “much safer access than there is right now” for PFD vehicles.

Eric Cleveland, who owns the State Farm Insurance office and building at 145 W. Main St., said businesses on the block already use the existing parking spaces.

“I think people will be parking downtown, and I doubt that they’ll be helping businesses because they’ll be parking for weddings and receptions,” said Cleveland, who expressed “my disappointment with the city and how the Plan Commission started … a lot of city business is confusing to people. If we talk together more, I think we can do better.”

Jayne Stark, owner of Jayne’s Family Hair Care at 30 S. Court St., said she had gotten 200 petition signatures against vacating Jones Street.

“These are people that come to our beauty shop,” including “many, many senior citizens,” she said. She said her customers have to walk five blocks now to get to her store.

Stark listed two proposed downtown projects that she said didn’t go forward due to parking issues — the proposed Melby–Bendorf Funeral Home addition at its former location where Hartig Drug now is, and the proposed student housing project at the Pine–Bonson parking lot.

“I would love to see him be able to put it somewhere else,” said Stack. “If he’s open at lunch time, we’re going to have serious problems.”

Bill McBeth of Driftless Market, 95 W. Main St., said customers “carry heavy groceries from our store. They’re not going to walk a quarter-mile to park.”

McBeth called for a “thoughtful discussion about parking in that area with all the parties involved” so “other businesses in that area will not be adversely impacted by what could be a very positive thing for Platteville.”

Steve’s currently has maximum capacity of 354. The second-level restaurant would have capacity of 89, and the third-floor restaurant would have capacity of 89, with a total capacity of 538 in the building.

That is fewer than the 700 that had been predicted. Cleveland said he asked “numerous times” how big the expansion would be, “and they wouldn’t tell me.”

“I think this project is going to be a great thing for the city, and I want to give something back to the city,” said Patakos, whose business has grown from 1,000 square feet and 12 employees at 15 E. Main St. to 15,000 square feet and 57 employees.

Patakos said the brewpub and restaurants would “create a lot more jobs” while generating more payroll, sales and property taxes, “boost the local economy” and “grab more money from surrounding communities.” The brewpub would create the opportunity to cross-market with other downtown businesses “just like Galena does,” he added.

Olds said the expansion would lead to 50 to 60 new jobs.

While the new restaurants will not be open for lunch, Patakos does plan on opening his existing first and second floors for lunch weekdays. 

“He will not have the entire complex open for lunch because you cannot feasibly do that,” said Olds. “There’s not enough business in Platteville to operate Steve’s complex at lunch in its entirety. John could right now open up every day for lunch and he would not be required to add one space of extra parking.”

Patakos said the project would be designed to improve storm water removal from what exists now. The project would include a curb and gutter on the east side four to five feet from Cleveland’s building, with inlets into the storm sewer to Main Street.

“Discouraging a reasonable development such as this will only serve to discourage further downtown development,” said Olds.

At-large Ald. Amy Seeboth-Wilson asked whether the council had grounds to deny the street vacation. “If they meet the zoning code, do we have the ability to deny Jones Street?” she said.

City manager Karen Kurt said the council could deny the vacation, but “the project may still proceed with some design modifications if it meets our zoning ordinances.”

“I don’t think you need to express a reason,” said city attorney Brian McGraw, who said the vacation could be rejected if the council determined that “the public interest is not promoted by granting the application.”

“What kind of leverage do we even have?” said Seeboth-Wilson. “If they provide 30 parking spaces, we don’t have the leverage to demand 50 parking spaces.”

“Even if we don’t do anything with the street, the project can be done without anything else,” said at-large Ald. Mike Denn.

Kilian said the city’s parking ordinances are inadequate.

“Times are changing; the code is really not up to date as far as needs … as for parking,” he said.

“Then you need to change the ordinance, but that’s not what we’re talking about,” said Denn.

At-large Ald. Tom Nall said downtown Platteville was designed “130 years ago, and at that time nobody had any inkling there’d be automobiles, or parking, or wider streets. … It’s not going to be easy for Steve’s Pizza if we don’t approve this” or for existing businesses, he added.

“It’s in the best interest of the community that we do this,” he said. “This one proint is just something that goes along with progress and change.”

The council also approved extending the easement into the Main Street right of way eastward to accommodate the project. Chyko said the front of buildings on the south side of West Main Street from Steve’s down to Court Street all sit in the official Main Street right of way.