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Development plan passed for UW-Whitewater student complex

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Kevin Hoffman
September 8, 2011
— Whitewater city officials Tuesday unanimously approved a development plan for a scaled-down version of a student housing complex halted last year by the planning commission.

Developers for more than a year pushed plans to build “The Element,” a student apartment building next door to UW-Whitewater’s campus. Zoning issues crippled the initial proposal, but planners now have drafted a revised design that’s found more support with the city.


The city council Tuesday passed a development agreement, establishing responsibilities for public improvements and fees resulting from the project. That includes public utilities, sidewalks and construction to the streets.


The Element will be built at the corner of Prince and Florence streets, near the university’s Irvin L. Young Auditorium and Carlson Hall. When the proposal was first reviewed by the city, plans called for an 88-unit building. That has since been downsized to 18 units with 69 rooms.


Part of the problem was parking density. Whitewater landlords spoke at a public hearing in December, arguing 81 parking stalls was too few for an estimated 108 tenants.


Landlords also opposed a zoning change that would have given The Element’s property owners more rights than other landlords throughout the city.


The new project is about one-third the size of the original and complies with current zoning standards. Matthew Burrow, one of the development’s leaders, said he hopes to have the project completed by next summer and students living there beginning with the 2012-13 school year.


Construction of the three-story building can now begin. City Manager Kevin Brunner said the agreement was sent Wednesday to the developer.


Construction requires the demolition of at least one building at the site, Brunner said.


Burow said The Element will serve as “transitional housing” between dormitories and private rentals. The building would include furnished apartments, common areas and on-site resident managers.


Burow previously said rent at The Element likely would be the highest in the city.



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