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Student housing proposed for St. Augustines
St Augustine block plan
Student housing would be on the south and east sides of the block. In this map West Pine Street is on top, South Hickory Street is on the left, Greenwood Avenue is on the bottom, and Bradford Street is on the right. - photo by Plunkett Raysich Architects, LLP

The Platteville block bordered by West Pine Street, South Hickory Street, Greenwood Avenue and Bradford Street may become as transformed as the Library Block within two years.

St. Augustine University Parish plans to replace all the buildings on the block with an 80,520-square-foot complex that will include three stories of housing for 144 UW–Platteville students, a two-story chapel to replace the church building, and a two-story student center.

The proposal was first unveiled to the public at the Platteville Plan Commission’s meeting Monday without a price tag on the value of the property when the project is completed. The project requires Common Council approval.

“It’s a preliminary concept, but they’re trying to nail down the details before they move forward,” said Kirk J. Keller, project manager of Plunkett Raysich Architects, LLP of Madison. “There’s room dedicated for a student center, for activity space, for meeting space, for students and for the community.”

The proposal includes 39 spaces of on-street parking along Greenwood Avenue and Bradford Street, along with around 30 underground parking spaces proposed to be accessed from West Pine Street west of Bradford Street.

The proposal includes a three-story L-shaped housing building along Greenwood Avenue and Bradford Street with 48 two- and four-bedroom apartments to house up to 144 students, described by Keller as “high-quality, safe student housing.”

Keller did not say what housing costs would be, except that “We have to be competitive with the market.”

The housing would be managed by a firm not connected to the church. Keller said negotiations are under way with a Madison property management firm.

The chapel is proposed to be on West Pine Street east of South Hickory Street, with the student center to the south. A courtyard would serve as both greenspace and a storm water retention area, with walkways from the north and the southeast.

Keller described the buildings as looking like “a very traditional piece of architecture” designed to complement nearby churches.

If approved and funds are raised, project work could begin next spring and summer and be completed sometime in 2017. Keller said the project could be designed in one or two parts.

Keller said two of the four properties on the block are owned by the church, and two of the four properties are under contract. 

Platteville Places lists the house at 435 Pine St. as owned by Shawnee LLC, and the house at 185 Hickory St. as owned by Phat Blue LLC, both of which list as addresses P.O. Box 202, Platteville. The house at 405 Pine St. is listed as owned by Collen M. Carroll and G. Travis Scott of Soldiers Grove. The house at 160 Bradford St. is listed as owned by Gamma Omega House LLC of Mount Horeb.

Parking drew immediate comment from commission members.

When Keller said there was no need for more underground parking than proposed — 27 if on one side of the project, up to 31 if on another side — commission member Julie Loeffelholz responded, “I would guess there are people in the audience who would beg to differ.”

“To say there isn’t need of [more] parking and then prioritize parking for [workers] shows that there is a need for [more] parking,” said commission member Robin Cline.

Director of Community Development Joe Carroll said city codes require 120 parking spaces for an apartment building of that size.

“Parking is such a mess, and when you put in a parking garage entrance you lose three or four spots,” said commission member Tom Nelson.

Parking is allowed only on the south side of Greenwood Avenue, but it is limited because driveways run along most of the 400 block. Parking is allowed only by permit on the east side of Bradford Street.

Parking wasn’t the only issue raised.

In addition to noting the “very, very, very, very narrow” width of Greenwood Avenue, Garry Prohaska, who lives on Division Street, expressed concerned over the proposed height of the building, which, like the Library Block project, will be situated near the Main Street Historic District and the West Main Street Historic District, which starts at Elm Street. 

Prohaska said the parking being proposed would be more appropriate for a two-story building.

“As St. Augustine’s is the owner, this is not a large development and a large center for funds; it’s something very straightforward in size as far as student housing,” said Keller.

Barbara Parsons, who lives near St. Augustine’s, noted that UW–Platteville policy requires freshmen and sophomores to live on campus if dorm space is available, “and this would be off campus, even though it’s across the street.” Parkins said the university “can’t afford to have empty spaces in their residential halls.”

Parsons said St. Augustine’s opened in the early 1970s, and “the community I’m familiar with is no longer there. … In my own judgment I don’t see the necessity of new residences for students.”

Parsons said the proposed housing “must be” targeting “Catholic students,” which she said is “not necessarily in the best interests of Catholic students to be living in a segregated area. … Students have to live in the larger society eventually when they leave the university.”

Keller said, however, that the housing would be “nondenominational — it has to be, for fair housing” requirements of the federal government.

Cline, however, wondered if because of the property’s ownership by a church if those requirements would apply to the project. “I know there are federal rules, but if it’s owned by a church … that was the question I was having.”