BMO Harris Bank Mixed Use Blueprint/layout

A representation of a proposed mixed-use apartment complex and retail hot spot for the current BMO Harris Bank location on Monona Drive.

A mixed-use apartment complex and retail hot spot with rentable Tesla vehicles may be coming to Monona Drive in the near future.

Representatives from Neutral Project, a Madison-based real estate development company, and Angus-Young, a local architectural firm, presented plans for the potential new development at a June 28 Monona Plan Commission meeting.

The four-story building would occupy 4711 Monona Drive to 4601 Monona Drive, which is currently home to BMO Harris Bank.

Developers said they would demolish the current BMO Harris location but allow the bank to move its office into the ground floor of the new building.

Amenities of the building would also include space for three retail businesses on the ground floor and three apartments, with floors two through four consisting of 95 total apartment units.

Nate Helbach, a managing partner with Neutral Project, said that along with BMO Harris Bank, the company hopes to house a coffee shop or breakfast restaurant, a fitness center, or a clothing store as its main retail presence.

In a move towards environmental sustainability, Helbach said the developers also envision installing a 100-kilowatt solar panel array on the roof of the building.

Plans also include electric vehicle charging stations in an underground parking garage, which would house up to six Tesla vehicles for residents of the apartment complex to rent.

“To help reduce single occupancy trips and the amount of residents that need a personal vehicle… [we would] provide an electronic vehicle that they can check out or utilize whenever they need,” said Jeff Davis, vice president and principal architect at Angus-Young.

According to Helbach, residents would download a mobile app to their phones which would allow them access to check out a Tesla. He said the Tesla rentals would reduce the building’s parking ratio by 10%.

Energy produced by the roof-top solar array would help charge the Tesla vehicles, Helbach said.

Commission’s reactionPlan Commission Chair and City Alder Nancy Moore said she’s impressed with the developers’ focus on sustainability for the potential project.

“Monona has a strong commitment to sustainability, and I’m thrilled to see that aspect of the development,” Moore said. “From the solar to the timber use to some of the other features… I’m very appreciative of that.”

Commission Member Chris Homburg agreed, describing the potential development as a “solid project” in a “terribly underutilized parcel.”

Yet, while members of the commission did express an overall appreciation of the sustainability aspects of the plan, some raised concerns on parking density and affordable housing opportunities.

Life-long resident of Monona Debbie Reynolds, who owns a home not far from the development site, expressed concerns at the June 28 meeting about the increase in vehicle traffic that the new building may bring to that corner of Monona Drive.

“I sincerely appreciate the sustainability aspect of [the project]. I am, however, quite concerned with the size of it, not only the massing but the density of people that are potentially being put into that block there,” Reynolds said. “There’s already parking issues there and… the amount of traffic that would be introduced by 100 to potentially 200 more people coming and going from that building would be a concern.”

In regards to affordable housing, Commission Member Patrick DePula expressed reservations on the developers’ plan to utilize tax incremental financing (TIF) for the project.

“What I’m not sure about is, why are we thinking about asking for TIF on a project where we’re experiencing a well-publicized housing shortage in Dane County,” DePula said. “If we’re asking… for TIF, we should also be having a conversation about housing affordability, and looking at this project I don’t see any mention at all about any sort of provision for [that].”

Yet, Helbach said the project likely won’t be possible without TIF.

“Currently as it stands with construction costs the way they are, it’s not a viable project without TIF, without some portion of TIF,” Helbach said. “The amount of TIF, though, that’s something that we’ve been discussing with staff and will continue to analyze.”

DePula challenged the developers to consider at least 10% affordable housing units for the complex.

Looking ahead, developers will have some time to amend their proposal before it comes back to the plan commission for an official vote later this summer.

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