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Mt. Tosa neighborhood plan changes gain panel backing

July 27, 2011

Assisted-living apartments could serve Wauwatosa's aging population on the west side of town, said members of the city's Community Development Committee who supported a change in the Mount Tosa neighborhood plan Tuesday.

Helmut Toldt, developer of the neighborhood at 113th Street and Walnut Road, has requested an amendment to his developer's agreement with the city. With the condominium market stagnant, he has proposed building a 67-unit assisted-living and memory-care facility at the site where a 40-unit condominium building had been approved.

Condos would still be part of the larger neighborhood plan, just on a different lot. The new plan has the condos replacing a 51-unit apartment building, Toldt said in a letter to Mayor Jill Didier.

The assisted-living building could be built and start bringing in taxes sooner than condos, Toldt said.

The existing plans call for 100 apartments and 40 condos spread among three lots, and would have a total value of $16.7 million. The proposed amendment would change plans for the same three lots to 60 apartments, 40 condos and 67 assisted-living units, creating a value of $18.3 million.

"It does appear to meet the goals we intended," City Attorney Alan Kesner said.

The city entered into the agreement with the developer in December, 2009, to guide the development of the 18-acre site adjacent to the Public Works Yard, which was being sold by the city to Toldt. However, the original pitch for the neighborhood came in 2002, a very different time for the economy and housing market.

Since tax revenue wouldn't drop from the change and there is a desire in the community for more senior housing, Alderwoman Linda Nikcevich supported the amendment. She serves as the Common Council's liaison to the Senior Commission, where adequate housing and transportation remain the top two priorities.

"There is a high-density population of seniors in Wauwatosa," she said.

And over the past decade, the elderly population has moved from East Tosa to the city's west side.

Although assisted-living facilities already exist in Wauwatosa, this one building shouldn't oversaturate the market, Community Development Director Nancy Welch said.

"There's nothing indicating this is putting us over the top," she said.

There are also younger residents who want their elderly parents to live nearby, Toldt said.

The request to amend the agreement must go to the council next week. But the change in building use requires a zoning change, and that was held over by the Plan Commission because Didier was worried that assisted-living units would be a dramatic shift from the trendy, urban feel initially promised to the city.

Plans to postpone, not eliminate, condos from the plan should help, Kesner said.

Toldt said he has not received a response from the mayor. Alderman Bobby Pantuso said he'd like for Didier to speak to her concerns before a vote at the council meeting.

Next step

WHAT: The Common Council will vote on a change to the developer's agreement to allow assisted-living and memory-care apartment units as part of the Mt. Tosa neighborhood project.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: City Hall, 7725 W. North Ave.

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