Attorney objects to Frank Productions' proposed entertainment facility near Summerfest – Milwaukee Business Journal – The Business Journals

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Although Frank Productions’ proposed music and event facility near Summerfest complies with city zoning, an attorney representing companies run by developer and architect Peter Renner objected Wednesday to the appropriateness of a theater in the posh district adjacent to downtown Milwaukee.
Attorney John Wirth of Mallory SC in Milwaukee also criticized several details of preliminary architectural plans and the plan to use adjacent surface parking lots.
“This is a Summerfest development expanding beyond and into the historic Third Ward,” Wirth said during a meeting of the Third Ward Architectural Review Board. “I think ultimately this body ought to reject this application. It’s in the wrong place, the wrong building.”
Wirth said he represents Frontage LLC and Harbor Front Marina LLC, which both list Renner as their registered agent. Wirth said he also represents “a few” other clients whom he did not identify.
Renner also spoke briefly during the meeting and reiterated concerns about Madison-based Frank Productions’ plans to use existing surface parking lots near the Summerfest grounds. Frank Productions is majority owned by national concert promoter and venue operator Live Nation.
The Architectural Review Board’s only role in reviewing the proposed live entertainment and event facility involves possibly approving the architecture and design. The board represents Business Improvement District No. 2 and is chaired by Milwaukee Ald. Bob Bauman.
Bauman has said the proposed Frank Productions project appears to comply with zoning for the site. He said the only possibility of a public airing for the proposal would be at the Milwaukee Board of Harbor Commissioners, which will be asked to approve an easement for the new facility to access an existing private street.
Ron San Felippo, who is a member of the harbor commission and chairs the Business Improvement District, said the harbor commission plans to invite public comment on the proposed easement.
Milwaukee World Festival Inc., which runs Summerfest, owns the land where the Frank Productions venue would be built and is negotiating a land lease. Milwaukee World Festival is the entity that would seek the easement approval from the harbor commission and that could happen in February.
The Architectural Review Board raised questions about several items in the proposed Frank Productions facility design and tabled the matter until an unspecified later date. The concerns included the possibility that there would be too few windows and questions about a rendering showing potential future development to the west.
Frank Productions has retained Eppstein Uhen Architects of Milwaukee for the project. Troy Jacoby of EUA said there is no specific plan for the future development but said it could include residential uses.
Bauman said the review board will hold the matter and await revisions in the architectural plans.
After the meeting, Frank Productions CEO Joel Plant said he appreciates the feedback from the architecture board and will incorporate that in another iteration of the proposed design and architecture. He said during the meeting that his company is willing to listen to concerns and plans to meet with the president of a neighboring condominium association.
Doug Artus, president of the Harbor Front condo association on Erie Street, said during the architectural review meeting that his members have questions about traffic, noise and truck loading and unloading at the proposed facility. Renner Architects designed, built and sold the 160-unit complex.
“We know there’s going to be a robust discourse with the neighbors and other interested parties in regards to the impact — the positive impact — of this development,” Plant said. “We’re excited to engage in those conversations quickly.”
Plant noted that the land is zoned properly for the proposed events and entertainment facility and Frank Productions wants to be a good neighbor.
The design reviewed Wednesday shows the amplified public-address system and stages facing the Summerfest grounds so noise would go to the east and away from nearby residences.
The smaller of two venues in the facility would have a capacity of 800 with an anticipated 85 shows per year. The larger venue would have a capacity of 4,000 with about 50 shows per year, according to Frank Productions.
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