An 80-unit apartment building on the 1000 block of University Avenue will move to the next step of the city process despite a neighboring church’s concerns against additional student residents.[/media-credit]

A city commission approved the construction of an eight-story student apartment building on the property of the University of Wisconsin campus’ Episcopal student center on University Avenue after months of controversy Wednesday night.

The 80-unit building, located at 1001 University Ave., is across North Brooks Street from Grainger Hall and across from Lathrop Hall, Randy Bruce, architect of the project, said at the Urban Design Commission meeting.

The building will be designed for student living, Bruce said. It will feature indoor moped parking on two basement levels and both covered and uncovered bike parking.

Despite Luther Memorial Church’s adamant opposition to the proposal, the project passed through UDC. Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, was the only committee member who opposed.

The date developers will break ground has yet to be announced.

The church initially opposed the project because members believed the tall building would cast a shadow over the church and take away from its historic stained-glass windows, church member Douglas Swiggum said.

Swiggum added that the congregation became increasingly concerned after members began to experience problems with residents of the neighboring Grand Central apartment complex.

He said that during the two and a half years that Grand Central has been open, the church has experienced disruption and minor damage from students throwing food, beer cans and heavy glass liquor bottles off of their balconies at the building.

Students’ actions have caused cracks and breaks in tiles and shingles on the church’s roof, Swiggum said. The problem continues to persist.

Bruce said he agreed the problems faced by the church were concerning but said that the majority of the units in the new building do not overlook the church.

The church’s Senior Pastor Frank Wilson suggested that the balconies on the upcoming apartment building be screened in to avoid similar problems.

“Management has increased security, but every fall there’s a new crop of students,” Swiggum said. “Every fall enough mass is thrown to easily sail through a stained glass window.”

Still, Bruce said the building is designed in a modern style to attract even more students into the area and blend in to the modern residential area.

“When choosing building materials, we wanted something that would read as uniform as possible so the design felt as sleek as possible,” he said. “We’re looking at a darker metal and a glass with a bluish tint and reflectivity so it’ll come across as a continuous plane.”