Source: Stone House Development
The proposed venue would offer 280 on-site parking spaces, with additional street parking in the surrounding neighborhood.
The sidewalks of the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood were filled with young trick-or-treaters and their parents on Halloween. This near-east-side area has seen a decrease in renters in recent years as more young families have bought homes there.
Cheryl Balazs and her husband, Nick, are one of those families. They have formed a new group, Tenney Lapham for Smart Development, to oppose a music venue proposed for the 1000 block of East Washington Avenue, which they fear would bring traffic, noise and congestion to their neighborhood. Parking is also a major concern: Many homes in the neighborhood don't have driveways or off-street parking options.
The project, proposed by Stone House Development and local concert-promotion company Frank Productions, involves razing the Madison Dairy Produce building to build a 46,000-square-foot music venue operated by Frank Productions. The project would also include a 280-stall parking ramp, a mixed-use office building and 100 units of affordable housing on East Mifflin Street.
"The housing would be great," Cheryl said during a stroll through the neighborhood with Isthmus on Saturday. "We have no objections to the vast majority of the proposal. It just comes down to the music venue being too big to be nestled in this residential area."
The Balazses and other members of Tenney Lapham for Smart Development are excited about redevelopment on East Mifflin, across from Lapham Elementary School, but contend that a 2,000-seat music venue isn't the right choice for a residential area.
Charlie Goldstone, president of Frank Productions, is well aware of these concerns and says Stone House has been working closely with the city and a neighborhood steering committee to address them.
"In terms of the parking and the traffic, those are obviously extremely valid and important issues for us to sort out," he says.
Frank Productions predicts it will book 100 concerts a year, with eight to 10 shows at capacity in that timeframe. The company says there's enough on-site parking to meet the needs of 1,200 people, which they predict will be the average audience size at the venue.
Plans also call for potential leased lots and street parking on the other side of East Washington. A survey by Stone House on the evening of Sept. 10 indicates approximately 500 on-street spots are available outside the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood. And Frank Productions has identified some 170 potential spaces in leased lots.
Goldstone says many people will also arrive by bus, foot or bike.
But those options are problematic, says neighborhood resident Jessica Becker. "Crossing East Washington by foot or by bike is currently terrifying." She says the developers would need to address this issue.
Goldstone and Larry Frank, CEO of Frank Productions, say their success at running Freakfest is evidence they know how to handle crowds.
"There's a science to crowd management, planning, organization and activation that can reduce -- if not eliminate -- those kinds of concerns," Goldstone says.
"We're here to make it work, we know how to make it work, and we will make it work," Frank adds.