City officials mull over potential mixed-use development on Third Street
By Joe Bachman
STEVENS POINT — Planning Commission members mulled over the potential future of a mixed-use development at the old Lullaby Furniture site, located at 1017 Third St.
The development would be completed in two phases, which first includes the construction of two four-story mixed-use buildings on the southside of the property. Second would see construction of a residential building on the northwest side of the property, as well as eleven town-homes. This includes elevator access through different floors. The first phase would see completion by 2020.
According to city documents, the proposed layout pulls the buildings close to the streets and shields the parking behind the buildings. In addition, there will be multiple pedestrian linkages through the sites, including links to trails and parks.
Courtyards are also laid in the plans, for both commercial and residential users. Both buildings would consist of a total of 30,000 sq. feet of commercial space and over 200 residential units. Plans could also include a way to connect the development to the downtown area. According to Community Development Director Michael Ostrowski, extra housing in Stevens Point is much needed.
“In our 2017 housing study it was identified significantly the shortage that we have, and I think the two previous projects that we’ve approved, as well as some new housing on the former Grant School site, is continuing to provide housing we need as a city,” said Ostrowski to planning members. “A lot of our growth is not happening on the city fringes anymore in terms of new residential subdivisions.”
These units would include a variety of spaces, including micro, studio, 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom and town-home units. The mixed-use development mirrors other developments in example areas such as Santa Cruz, Calif., Hollywood, Ca., and Cophenhagen, Denmark.
Mayor Mike Wiza is in support of the project.
“This is one of the most unique things that we’ve had proposed — I think it’s the perfect fit,” said Wiza. “It’s exactly like the things we have been talking about as a community to try and get something into that neighborhood feel. You have the walkability, and finally, something that will look good on that lullaby site that we’ve been dealing with for a while.”
The site will seek to transition from a dense, mixed use housing on the south of the property, to a lesser dense use in the north, before transitioning into the single family neighborhood north of Portage Street, according to city documents.
However, some concerns were pointed out which include the large amount of residents in such a dense space, and how that reflects parking. Haines spotted that over 180 residents may be without proper parking.
“I love this idea — I will say that; I think it’s great,” said Planning Commission member Anna Haines. “There are a lot of units, though. It brings the density we’ve been talking about, but we also don’t know how to deal with parking yet in this community.”
Developer Brent Dahlstrom was on hand to field questions and quell any concerns about the future of the potential site. He noted that the very first step in this process is to meet with city and business leaders to gauge exactly what the city needs out of a development. To help him, Dahlstrom asked many the same question: ‘what makes Point special’?
“The one thing that continued to come up in Point is the love of nature,” said Dahlstrom. “…we’re trying to get people into this area, and then they can go enjoy that.”
In regards to parking:
“We develop with people in mind to start; not the car. We start with out people are going to interact with the buildings; how they’re going to interact with the city; how they’re going to interact with the first floor,” said Dahlstrom. “We don’t want to continue the ill-effects of putting cars first and people second. We are firm believers in our passion about downtown areas and urban development — and walking, biking, and cars — all three are integral to the development.”
Dahlstrom pointed out that studies have shown that younger generations are less dependent on the motor vehicle. All in all, the development may simply be suited for those who either do not have a car, or may not be too dependent on a vehicle, according to Dahlstrom.
“As you analyze some of these developments and where they’re located, and applying those typical parking ratios appropriately, this is an area we want to grow in — this is an area we want to increase density,” said Director Ostrowski. “We have hundreds of parking spaces surrounding this site; numerous municipal parking lots, and one of the reasons why we’re trying to get rid of some is they’re not utilized.
…it shows that there’s activity downtown — it’s a bustling center, and that’s the image we want to portray.”
No action was taken, as this project was brought forth for conceptual review as plans and talks will continue to develop.