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Self-Storage Conversion Project Falls Flat in South Milwaukee, WI


A proposal to convert a former bowling alley to self-storage in South Milwaukee, Wis., received little interest from the city planning commission during a preliminary meeting last month. Brian Fisher, business development manager for development company Anderson Ashton, presented plans on Aug. 28 for a "state-of-the-art, climate-controlled” facility for the 7-acre property at 305 N. Chicago Ave. The site formerly housed AMF South Park Lanes, which closed in 2014, according to the source.

The development would include converting the building’s interior to storage as well as constructing new buildings around the main structure. The facility would contain 500 to 600 units.

Because the meeting was a pre-application submittal for the conditional-use process, no action was taken, the source reported. A formal proposal has yet to be submitted.

Mayor Erik Brooks called the parcel a “most intriguing site” and said he’d prefer to keep within the city’s comprehensive plan, which calls for residential use. "I have a hard time going away from that plan," said Brooks, who admitted a residential development would be challenging for the 40,000-square-foot, 40-lane bowling alley. "I just don't want to settle. It's not easy to market, but that doesn't mean we should give up."

The parcel’s zoning is split between commercial and residential, with most of it falling under the Historic Grant Park Neighborhood, according to city engineer Kyle Vandercar. "A single-family development will be challenging, at best," he said.

One point in favor of the storage project would be the city’s ability to collect millions in tax dollars, alderman R. Patrick Stoner noted during the meeting. Alderman Craig Maass, who’s not a commission member but attended the meeting, said the city needs to “give the neighborhood more time” to find a suitable development for the property.

Following nearly an hour of discussion, Vandercar said the commission wasn’t interested in seeing a formal application for the storage project. No one objected.

It’s not the first time the city has discussed self-storage for the property, the source reported. Other uses, including multi-family housing and a banquet facility, have also been considered.

Based in New Berlin, Wis., Anderson Ashton is a design/build general contractor for commercial, industrial and institutional industries.


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