Campus property rezoned

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  • The Milwaukee Common Council approved zoning changes to several Marquette properties last week.
  • The properties were rezoned for “institutional” use.
  • The university made the request to align the official designation of the properties with their current and intended uses by Marquette.

The Milwaukee Common Council approved zoning changes to several Marquette properties last week, officially designating the areas for “institutional” use.

Marquette exercised its legal right to request rezoning of certain properties it had purchased, said 4th District Alderman Robert Bauman. The “housekeeping” measure, approved Feb. 10, simply matches the legal designations of the areas to their current and intended uses by Marquette, he said.

“This is nothing radical,” Bauman said. “There was no opposition from the city.”

There are currently no plans for the rezoned land that had not been previously announced, said Rana Altenburg, university vice president for public affairs.

The university originally sought to ensure that the former Marquette Apartments, 1628 W. Wisconsin Ave., could be used as a student residence hall next school year, Altenburg said.

The Department of City Development recommended a rezoning request instead of a special use request because rezoning is permanent and more flexible, she said. The university decided to comprehensively review its properties and make all anticipated requests for rezoning in the “foreseeable future” at the same time.

The eight areas had previously been zoned for “Civic Activity, Local Business, Multi-Family Residential, and Residential and Office,” according to the approved legislation.

Marquette’s requests centered on current zoning that did not accommodate the university’s future intended uses of its properties, such as the former Marquette Apartments, said Doug Smith, university associate general counsel.

Additional requests for adjacent properties were made to avoid inconsistency and “spot zoning,” Smith said. This makes the zoning uniform so a property is not surrounded by land with a different zoning designation.

Finally, the rezoning corrected what the Department of City Development deemed a previous “administrative error” in zoning with Straz Tower, 915 W. Wisconsin Ave., Smith said.

The zoning is consistent with the university’s 1997 Campus Master Plan and the city’s Near West Side Area Plan approved in 2004, said Vanessa Koster, assistant planning director for the Department of City Development.

One non-Marquette property rezoned for “institutional” use is land beneath the Marquette Interchange, between Wisconsin Avenue and Michigan Street. The land is owned by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, but was rezoned by the city to make the property consistent with surrounding zoning, Koster said.

Marquette purchased the Trebor Apartments, 620 N. 17th St., and Kalt Apartments, 1621 and 1623 W. Wisconsin Ave. and 628 N. 17th St., in 2007. The purchase and rezoning of those properties results in a loss of tax revenue as they become tax-exempt, Bauman said. But the benefits of Marquette’s use outweigh any negative consequences, he said.

“Ultimately, this is in the best interests for the city,” Bauman said.

For example, Bauman said the demolishing of the Trebor, Kalt and Carmel Apartments, 610 N. 17th St., to make room for the proposed College of Engineering building, the Discovery Learning Complex, will result in increased spending by the university and employment opportunities for construction workers. That, in turn, will lead to increased spending by workers in the city, he said.

Bauman said the university is already helping to boost the city’s economy through its two current construction projects: the new Law School building, Eckstein Hall, and new student services and administrative building, Zilber Hall.

“Marquette is operating its own stimulus effort in the city,” Bauman said.

Click here to view the specifics on the rezoning.