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28-story office and apartment high-rise approved in Wauwatosa

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Posted at 11:19 AM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 23:23:14-05

WAUWATOSA — The controversial high rise proposed in Wauwatosa has gained the key approval it needs to become a reality.

The 28-story office and apartment tower proposed by John “Johnny V” Vassallo was approved by the Design Review Board on Thursday. Permit application is now pending, but it should be a formality following DRB approval since the project meets current zoning.

The approval means construction could began this September, and it could be completed as early as spring of 2024, our partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal report.

"I'm stoked we're going to build a trophy style building on a once in a lifetime corner" said Vassallo. "It's every developers dream."

The building, called Drew Tower, is set to include 65 apartments and about 80,000 square feet of office space, at Bluemound and Mayfair roads.

But the project has faced push-back from Tosa residents including the group Underwood Neighbors United. The group urged city officials last year that the development is "totally incompatible" with the neighborhood and existing properties.

The developer group responded that the building would not substantially lower values of existing properties, citing the values of homes near newer apartment buildings in the area.

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Other residents of the group Still A Suburb - Wauwatosa, spoke out on Friday following news of the tower's design approval.

"Our neighborhood has said repeatedly we’re not against development, and we want to see something good happen to this corner," said Melissa Post, who lives near the proposed tower. "We’d just like it to be more complementary to the neighborhood that’s behind it."

In particular, residents are upset about the height — 28 floors. The next tallest building in the area is an Ascension Hospital, at just six floors. They also fear Drew Tower will set a precedent for other large buildings to go up in commercially zoned areas.

Vassallo told TMJ4 News for a story last month that “Wauwatosa is kind of the center of the Greater Milwaukee Area in my opinion. The lake's beautiful, it's fantastic, but when you really look at it from a transportation standpoint, from a jobs standpoint, Tosa's done an amazing job.”

Residents organized against the project say they plan to appeal the city's design approval.

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