'Perfect storm' of delays pushes back openings of Whitefish Bay's Mandel apartments, municipal parking lot
Main municipal lot projected to reopen in September
Whitefish Bay — Businesses on Silver Spring Drive will have to wait a little longer than they'd hoped to get their north municipal parking lot back.
Roughly 135 parking spaces on the north end of the street were taken away in September, when The Mandel Group began construction on a three-building apartment development known as Beaumont Place. The area under construction will eventually be home to two apartment buildings with public parking on the ground level and tenant parking underground.
The Mandel Group originally expected to open the 63-stall parking lot behind Associated Bank in February, but that timeline was pushed back after We Energies had a delay in relocating gas and electric lines in the parking lot, according to Richard Lincoln of The Mandel Group. By the time that utility work and excavation was completed, The Mandel Group found themselves in the dead of winter with sub-zero temperatures.
"It has been a perfect storm," Lincoln said. "The good news is we are back in full construction mode."
Construction crews resumed work in the excavated pit last week, but the overall construction schedule has been pushed back by about four months. The construction delay was a subject of concern at the Whitefish Bay Community Development Authority's meeting last week.
Lincoln told the committee that construction crews will work longer hours to open the Associated Bank parking lot by July 20 and the middle lot behind Fox Bay Cinema by Sept. 15. Lincoln said he does not expect to have parking restored until after the Fourth of July holiday, which brings hundreds of families to Silver Spring and Lake drives for the parade and Klode Park Festival.
Public parking is currently available on surrounding streets, in the two-hour lot behind Winkie's, in the 30-stall lot under the Fox Bay Building and in the 19-stall lot directly behind the Fox Bay Building. Parking is also available in the 45-stall lot abutting Santa Monica Boulevard and Beaumont Place, but that lot will close when the Associated Bank lot reopens to allow construction on the third apartment building, which will not have surface level parking.
Some people are also parking without permission in the private Sendik's lot, which is meant only for grocery store customers. Sendik's owner Ted Balistreri, a member of Whtiefish Bay's Community Development Authority and Business Improvement District, encouraged Lincoln to restore parking as soon as possible to relieve the parking congestion in the area.
"I think during the process as promises are made and not kept that causes problems," Balistreri said. "I understand there are certain things that are out of your control, but if there are ways to expedite, especially the parking, that would go along way."
Aimee Matchette, of Elements Therapeutic Massage, said she was disappointed by the construction hiccup, but realizes that unforeseen factors can arise. She said she supports development on the street, but wishes the construction was phased to keep one lot open at a time, as was originally discussed.
"It hasn't been detrimental to our business," she said. "I am more concerned about the noise of digging and boring foundational poles. I think for us, the worst may be yet to come."
Show of good faith sought
Balistreri also suggested that Mandel make a "a show of good faith" by increasing its investment to the renovation of Consaul Commons, which is the pedestrian walkway between The Bay restaurant and the former Cutters barbershop space. A committee is currently reviewing renovation options for the promenade area, which Lincoln estimated will cost around $250,000. Lincoln said The Mandel Group currently plans to offer $50,000 for that project, leaving the majority to be paid by the village.
He suggested those funds could be made available through the tax incremental financing district.
"There's no doubt in my mind, even taking into consideration Ted's recommendation that we increase our contribution, that there's going to be a need for some substantial (public) participation and that may very well involve TID funds," Lincoln said.
CDA Chairman Ray Krueger encouraged Lincoln to accelerate construction work on the parking lots and come back to the village with a more specific construction timetable.
"The public, I think, would be greatly relieved to see more equipment and more people out there," Krueger said.
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