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Saturday, December 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 27.0° F  Overcast
The Daily
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Plan Commission delays Iota Court apartments 'indefinitely,' three historic buildings saved
Controversy grabbed hold as soon as the three historic buildings were threatened.
Controversy grabbed hold as soon as the three historic buildings were threatened.

After being referred back-and-forth from Madison's Plan and Urban Design commissions, the ball is back in the court of the owners of Palisades Apartments.

The Plan Commission voted unanimously Monday to "refer indefinitely" the decision to tear down three historic buildings just off Langdon Street and replace them with a larger apartment complex. The decision allows the development team to respond to the commission's concerns by redesigning and resubmitting its proposal to the commission for approval at a later date.

The project calls for the demolition of three apartment buildings near Lake Mendota: 145 Iota Ct., 619 and 625 North Henry St. Built between 1911 and 1916, all three buildings are cited as reasons the area is included in the National Register of Historic Districts, according to a report (PDF) from the Madison Landmarks Commission.

As it was proposed Monday, the new apartment building, called "The Waterfront," would house 84 units and stand five stories tall, along with two "bonus" floors. Each unit would contain one to five bedrooms.

Controversy grabbed hold as soon as the three historic buildings were threatened, but others were also concerned about the size and architectural size of the proposed building. According to Ald. Bridget Maniaci (District 2), the proposed apartment building would host a little over 100 more people than the three current buildings combined, so density is another issue.

But the project has many backers. Proponents pointed to the benefits of its underground parking lot and amenities. Several speakers during Monday's meeting -- including Maniaci, Ald. Scott Resnick (District 8) and representatives from Palisades, which already owns the three buildings in question -- slammed the three buildings for being out of date, beyond repair and unsafe.

Maniaci has specific concerns about the building on Iota Court. "This building was completely built in a different time and place and it's totally being jerry-rigged for modern living and it's not going well," Maniaci said, though she maintains she is neutral on whether The Waterfront should be built.

Members of the Plan Commission ultimately could not reconcile all the pros and cons of the project Monday, allowing the developers another chance to tweak parts of the architectural layout.

The Landmarks Commission has advised against the development and the Urban Design Commission rejected it Dec. 19.

Had the Plan Commission approved The Waterfront, it would have gone to the Common Council for a final vote on Jan. 22.

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