Plan Commission advances new hospital property project

Proposal includes apartment building, single-family condos

The Shawano Plan Commission recommended a zone change Wednesday that clears the way for a proposed luxury apartment building and 25 single-family condominiums on the the former Shawano Medical Center property.

The zone change, which will go to the Common Council for consideration next week, is contingent on reaching a development agreement with Tadych Investment Partners, LLC, of Green Bay.

That agreement is expected to include financial assistance for the project from the city, likely in the form of a new Tax Incremental Finance district. The purchase price of the property is also yet to be determined.

The commission’s approval came in spite of a public hearing at which a contingent of neighbors expressed some of the same concerns voiced last month when a four-story, 40-unit senior housing complex was proposed on the north parking lot of the former hospital property.

Neighbors said that building was too large and out of place with the residential neighborhood.

The Tadych proposal considered Wednesday would be anchored by a four-story, 39-unit luxury apartment building. The developer is proposing underground parking that would take the height down a half-floor if soil conditions allow for it.

Some neighbors were frustrated at having to come back before the commission to object to yet another multi-story apartment building.

Neighbor Mike Kirar referred to the hearing as “Groundhog Day.”

Kirar said he was disappointed to see the city more interested in gaining a tax base than meeting the desires of the neighborhood.

“This is going to change that neighborhood forever, and that small-town atmosphere,” he said.

“We ask for our neighborhood to be restored to a residential atmosphere and be an area where families and individuals want to move and call home,” said Kelly Chelberg. “The size of the building is the main concern for us.”

Neighbors also had concerns about lower property values, the density of the development and the heavy traffic flow that would be created.

Commission member Lisa Hoffman, however, said any development in that area would likely have similar density to be financially viable.

Some neighbors questioned whether a project anchored by luxury apartments could succeed in Shawano.

Jason Tadych, of Tadych Investment Partners, said the development would attract “active empty-nesters and professional people not interested in home ownership.”

He said the apartments could rent for anywhere from $1,100 to $1,600.

Mayor Jeanne Cronce, who chairs the plan commission, said a number of young professionals work in Shawano but live elsewhere because of the lack of high-quality apartments.

“There is a contingency of people out there that are not living here because they don’t have the availability of more luxury apartments,” she said.

Todd Dobberstein, owner of Hometown Insurance in Shawano, led efforts to find a developer for the property. The original concept included a community center that was ultimately abandoned in favor of a project that would add to the city’s tax base.

“This is a type of project that is new to Shawano,” he said. “But that’s the excitement. There’s nothing like it in Shawano.”

Charlie Harvey, owner of Charlie’s County Market and a member of the ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano Board of Trustees, said the project could spur greater development in the city.

“This might light the fire or start other things like this in the community,” he said. “If you aren’t going forward, you’re going backward.”

The commission recommended the zone change almost unanimously, with Lorna Marquardt the sole no vote and Chuck Felts abstaining.

The project would be developed in stages, beginning with the apartment building and 15 single-family condominiums.

The second phase would be up to 10 additional single-family condominiums at the north parking lot, though timing on that phase will depend on how successful the first phase of the project is.

The former SMC campus consists of about seven acres overlooking the Wolf River near downtown Shawano. The north parking lot consists of about 1.3 acres of that, along Bartlett Street between West Second and Third streets.

The city owns a roughly 3.5-acre parcel of the former hospital property that became home to the original Shawano Medical Center in 1931 and was leased from the city.

Shawano Medical Center purchased additional land for expansion over the years. That portion of the property is now owned by ThedaCare.