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Thursday, October 2, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 64.0° F  Overcast
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Madison Plan Commission green lights eight-story, no-parking-stall project on Mendota Court
on
Maniaci: "Having an automobile downtown is a real cost,
and this is a creative way to address the infrastructure issues with this
property."
Maniaci: "Having an automobile downtown is a real cost, and this is a creative way to address the infrastructure issues with this property."

Madison developer Patrick Corcoran's plan for an eight-story apartment complex near Lake Mendota may be setting a precedent of sorts for downtown Madison: It has no plans for vehicle parking stalls.

"This close to the lake, realistically, we couldn't go below ground," Corcoran said about the proposed building that would include 27 moped storage stalls, and room for 75 bicycles.

The new complex, rammed into the dense space on Mendota Court off Lake Street (for a diagram of the site as well as elevation sketches and floor layouts, see the PDF download at right), gained support from the city's Plan Commission Monday evening, which voted 5-2 in support. The project previously received a nod from the Urban Design Commission.

At Monday's meeting, Corcoran and his team of architects and lawyers fended off detractors who charged that the building would only make the driving situation worse on the narrow lane.

Harvey Temkin, representing neighboring housing properties like the 13-story Roundhouse Apartments, said the proposed project will make everything from trash collection to pizza delivery more difficult and hazardous. And members of a nearby fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, said the neighborhood does not need another 100 drunk college kids running around near their property.

But the lack of parking was seen as a positive by some Plan Commission members, including Ald. Lauren Cnare, who say the building fits with the urban lifestyle the council is looking to encourage on the already crowded isthmus.

"It has been a gradual sensibility to move away to so much parking and talk about sharing, and ways to encourage people to get out of their cars," Cnare said.

Likewise, Ald. Bridget Maniaci called the idea progressive and said it fits with the city's growing bicycle infrastructure: "Having an automobile downtown is a real cost, and this is a creative way to address the infrastructure issues with this property."

Also speaking in favor were Scott Resnick, who represents the State-Langdon Neighborhood Association, and Ald. Bryon Eagon. They noted that the new building will replace two crumbling houses, one of which won UW Student Tenant Union's "Worst House in Madison Competition" in 2008.

"This represents accessible student housing and is a great opportunity we can't miss out on," Eagon said of the project, adding that it will increase safety in the area with more lighting and eyes on the ground.

At one point, the council chamber resembled a scene from A Miracle on 34th Street, when Gene Devitt, chairman of the Mansion Hill Neighborhood, dumped more than 200 surveys in opposition of the plan on a table for dramatic effect. He said the building is too tall and does not fit in the historic area.

Developers say the two houses built in the 1890s have no historical value, and have reached the end of their life expectancy. Corcoran said he's dedicated to providing safer, modern housing for students.

The Plan Commission deferred its deliberation on the Edgewater Hotel until its next meeting on Feb. 8. That will come after this Thursday's informational meeting at the Madison Municipal Building in room 260 at 7 p.m.

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