Former Pewaukee Mattress site could be Hindu temple


City of Pewaukee — A dormant property at a high-profile intersection could soon be revived, albeit in an unorthodox way.

A proposal is on the table to repurpose the former Pewaukee Mattress site, N35 W23986 Capitol Drive, into a Hindu temple. A local religious organization, BAPS Milwaukee, has requested approval to occupy the property.

This would be the second Hindu temple in the neighborhood. Hindu Temple of Wisconsin is at N4063 W243 Pewaukee Road. Yugesh Khatri, the president on the executive committee of the Hindu Temple of Wisconsin, confirmed that there is no affiliation between the two temples.

For BAPS Milwaukee’s request to move forward, the former mattress site needs a change in zoning, from a designation known as neighborhood commercial to urban institutional. City officials recently approved the request.

Susan Sorrentino, an attorney representing BAPS Milwaukee, laid out some of the plans for the site at a Plan Commission meeting May 15.

After more than 60 years in business, Pewaukee Mattress ceased operations at the property, at Capitol Drive and Highway 164, more than three years ago.

Since the closing of the business, the property has arguably become a blight in the community, with overgrown foliage and other undermaintained characteristics dotting the property.

But Sorrentino said BAPS Milwaukee plans to use the existing building and repurpose it for a temple that will serve about 25 families. Plans also call for a priest to live on the premises.

The bulk of the activity at the property would occur during the temple’s Sunday service, Sorrentino said.

During their recent review, commissioners heard from a small handful of residents whoexpressed concerns about lighting and noise. Resident John Engel inquired further about the proposed living quarters.

“I just don’t want to see multiple families turn this into an apartment complex,” Engel said.

In the Hindu community, some priests are married, and others are not. For this reason, Sorrentino said she was unsure of exactly how many people would live at the site, although she confirmed it would be limited to one family.

While several commissioners envisioned other possibilities for the site — including office use — there was an overall sense of enthusiasm toward bringing new life to a property that has been described as an eyesore.

“This is a building that has not done anything for the city, other than go downhill,” MayorScott Klein said.

The common council is on board with the commission’s recommendation. The council on May 19 voted to rezone the property, paving the way toward the redevelopment. City Administrator Tammy LaBorde said the next step is the official granting of a conditional-use permit. It could be issued in June.

During the preliminary review, commissioners briefly discussed the possibility of the site being taken off the city tax rolls. But Klein attempted to draw a distinction between taxation and site zoning.

The state Department of Revenue decides whether an organization meets the criteria, and municipalities need to follow through with the state’s determination.

“It really is a separate issue,” Klein said. “They need to apply for the rezoning.”

Source: Living Lake