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Village weighs 'events pad' for temporary businesses

Officials consider possible site near Silver Spring Drive

Oct. 19, 2011

Whitefish Bay - Village officials are contemplating the creation of a permanent space for events and temporary businesses.

The proposal comes following the denial of Stein Garden Center's plan to open a seasonal Just Plants pop-up store next spring within a portion of a village-owned parking lot along Beaumont Avenue.

That issue went before both the Plan Commission and Village Board in recent months, but was met with concerns about loss of parking space and setting a precedent for transient merchants. The proposal eventually was shot down by the Plan Commission last month.

Picking another site

While the Beaumont parking lot was deemed inadequate for the Stein proposal, village officials have found a different plot of land - behind the former El Guapo's restaurant building at 342 E. Silver Spring Drive - that could be repurposed for short-term events. The proposed 65-by-75-fot area is owned by the village.

Matt Schuenke, assistant village manager, came before the Village Board on Monday with a proposal to pave the area and create what he dubbed an "events pad." In addition to Stein, the area could house the seasonal farmers market. Each business or organization using the parcel would be required to obtain a conditional-use permit from the village.

Based on Schuenke's proposal, Stein could use the parcel each May and June, and the farmers market could set up shop in the area from July through September. The area could be used for other purposes at other times.

The paved area is not expected to consume any existing parking spaces, but could increase parking usage in the area, based on the event or business.

Schuenke said he floated the proposal to local organizations, including the Business Improvement District along Silver Spring, and received a favorable response.

Costs and other considerations

Paving the area is expected to cost between $30,000 and $50,000 and be funded through money in the tax-incremental financing district - not the village's general operating budget. The village currently has a surplus of about $90,000 in the TIF budget.

Village Manager Pat DeGrave said some the estimated cost could potentially be defrayed by having village Department of Public Works employees perform some of the work during non-peak times.

The board was largely receptive to Schuenke's proposal Monday. Officials voted, 6-1, in favor of moving forward with exploring the proposal.

The dissenter, Trustee James Roemer, expressed numerous concerns about the plan.

"I think there are better uses for these capital dollars," Roemer said. "My concern is about other prospective uses for that space. That's very attractive real estate back there. Other uses could produce better value."

The proposal moves on to the Plan Commission for further deliberation.

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