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Commission resolves zoning for Carnegie renovation

(Jed Carlson/ A $2.5 million renovation of the historic Carnegie library on Hammond Avenue to create co-working spaces is in the works. 1 / 2
(Jed Carlson/ A $2.5 million renovation of the historic Carnegie library in Superior is underway. 2 / 2

A $2.5 million renovation of the historic Carnegie library on Hammond Avenue to create co-working spaces is in the works.

Andrew Osterlund of Osterlund Architects of Raleigh, North Carolina, presented the plan to renovate the long vacant building to the Plan Commission on Wednesday, Sept. 19.

Osterlund purchased the building from the Friends of the Carnegie Library, a nonprofit formed to buy and stabilize the building after the city threatened to raze it in 2005, more than a decade after the city moved its library to Tower Avenue.

The Commission approved a change to its apartment residential zoning code that will allow for offices spaces, limited personal services, retail sales directed related to personal services and item made in planned fabrication space, a small cafe and potentially a museum, college or university use and an event space after Osterlund filed for a special use permit.

"I have roots that go back to Superior," Osterlund said. Last year, Osterlund told the Telegram that his mother used to go to the city's library at 1204 Hammond Ave., the first of 63 Carnegie libraries built in Wisconsin and one of two built in Superior.

Osterlund said his site planning team has been working with city officials as they try to pull the project together.

"The issue that arose immediately is that this is in a residential zone," Osterlund said. "Even though the building is historic and had been operational as a library ... since 1902, the current zoning does not support the historic library use and it does not support our current goals for the building."

In planning for the site, Osterlund said one of the first goals was to create as many parking spaces as possible on the site while maintaining the large trees south of the building centered on the rectangular site. The parking lot would be placed at an angle on the southeast corner of the property to achieve those goals.

"We did some creative geometry around those trees to preserve as much of the original character of the site as we can," Osterlund said.

Osterlund started marketing the space last year as part of a feasibility study for the project after reaching an agreement to with the Friends of the Superior Carnegie Library to purchase the building.

"A co-working facility is sort of a modern evolution of office space," Osterlund said. "Instead of enclosed offices, these are wide-open spaces. Instead of renting offices, you can rent desks, or you can simply have a membership to have card access to the facility. Our goal is to have a commercial co-use here."

The facility is being created to cater to small businesses, startups and entrepreneurs, he said.

Osterlund said members would have 24-hour access to the building, but the public would only have access between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., unless an occasional event such as a lecture or seminar, which would keep the facility open until 11 p.m. Osterlund said his goal is to retain the character of the neighborhood and accommodate the neighbors.

"We believe the proposed use is consistent with how people used the library," Osterlund said.

"I'm glad to see that something if finally being done with the building, and that someone is actually going to do something with it rather than just hold the title to the building," Commissioner Dennis Dalbec said. "You have my full support."

A neighbor of the building, Jake Peters, recently purchased a property right behind the library.

"I've been watching it for a long time, and I just want to say I am really excited about it being there and something happening to it," Peters told commissioners during a public hearing concerning the special use permit. "I'm happy for the historic nature of the building. I'm happy for what it might mean for that neighborhood, actually make it a better neighborhood. It's kind of a progressive thing for the city also.

Plans include seeking recognition on the National Registry of Historic Places.

"The building is historic. It's important. It's a landmark. We need to find a way to use it," Osterlund said.