Less than a week before the official proposal will reach Madison's Urban Design Commission, concerns linger over the impact of building an upscale 10-story hotel on the outer loop of the Capitol Square.
The proposed AC Hotel by Marriott would be located at 202 E. Washington Ave., the former location of Pahl Tire Co.
Representatives from management firm North Central Group and architects Gary Brink & Associates, Inc. gave updated details to a steering committee this week, noting they have continually made adjustments throughout the planning process to anticipate and address concerns.
Minor changes to the project included a slight extension of the curbside in the drop-off lane at the front of the hotel on Webster Street. This design has been criticized over worries that cars pulling in and out of the drop-off area will disrupt the already busy traffic flow around the loop throughout the day.
Other changes included a scaling back of a proposed café on the East Washington sidewalk terrace due to concerns it would get in the way of a nearby bus stop.
Committee member William Gates said after observing traffic congestion in the area during Madison's recent Art Fair on the Square he remains convinced the hotel would present significant problems in the area.
Jonathan Bogatay, CEO of North Central Group, said the firm knows Madison well due to its experience managing a number of other hotels in the city, including two Courtyard by Marriott locations. He says the downtown hotel would have a plan in place to deal with traffic concerns, especially for special events hosted on the Capitol Square.
"I still don't think it's sufficient," Gates countered.
Josh Wilcox, primary architect from Gary Brink, also said the two firms are hoping to work with the developers proposing a nearby apartment building in the hopes of creating a landscaped area behind the two buildings with open public access to provide unique views of the Lamp House.
Skepticism over a shadow study that predicts minimal impact remained among committee members. Though they were enthusiastic about an idea for the hotel to offer tour package options to those who reserve rooms that have the best view of the Lamp House.
Ald. Ledell Zellers encouraged steering committee members to attend future meetings where the proposal is discussed, including the upcoming Urban Design Commission meeting.
"I think sharing remaining concerns would be good," she said. "Talk to your neighbors and encourage others to attend too."
In addition to Urban Design, the project must receive approval from the Plan Commission and Common Council.