Tosa will raze home on 69th Street to add commercial parking

Published on: 4/5/2012

The owners of the home behind Voline Garage on North Avenue spent thousands of dollars renovating the property in hopes of finding a buyer and gaining some equity.

But the new owner won't be enjoying meals in the new kitchen or decorating any of the three bedrooms. The Wauwatosa Common Council this week agreed to purchase the property at 2323 N. 69th St. with plans to demolish it and build a parking lot.

"They understand it's the buyer's right to do what they want with it," said George Levin, the real estate agent with First Weber who is handling the deal. "They feel they got a fair and equitable arrangement."

The house has been vacant since his clients purchased the home in December 2010, Levin said.

While a parking lot may seem less than glamorous, it's an important first step to implementing the master plan for North Avenue in East Tosa, city staff said.

"I'm excited we're seeing progress in the North Avenue plan," said Alderwoman Linda Nikcevich, one of the district's representatives.

The property sits near what has been identified "as the heart of the district," City Administrator James Archambo said. Popular restaurants Cranky Al's and Il Mito, Rosebud Cinema and the new Rocket Baby Bakery are all located within the block.

The master plan identifies this as a high-priority acquisition, given that parking spots are often hard to find in the commercial area, said Paulette Enders, city economic development director.

The city got the owners to reduce their asking price by $5,000, down to $159,900. The fair market value for the 1922 home, which sits on less than an acre of land, is $168,800.

"(The new lot) extends the Walter's parking lot and drive aisle from 69th and 70th, adding both spaces and functionality," the plan reads.

In addition, the roadway enhancements are meant to delineate between the commercial and residential areas so people won't park in front of homes.

The new lot is meant to complement the municipal lot directly across the street, which is expected to undergo renovations so it can serve as a "carscape square." Think of it as a gathering place where tents could be put up for events like Chili'n on the Avenue chili contest or registration and step off for charity walk/runs.

The city is expected to close on the property May 1, Enders said. She will look for a nonprofit organization that can salvage the materials in the home.

Work could begin on the parking lot late this year or in early 2013.