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Thursday, March 5, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 16.0° F  Fair
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Future uncertain for fire-damaged Capitol Hill Apartments building
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Credit:Jason Joyce

The owner of the historic Capitol Hill Apartments building at 24 N. Webster St. hopes he'll be able to rehab the property following a June 30 fire that displaced 27 residents and shuttered two ground-level businesses.

"The building is very near and dear to his heart," says Bonnie Brink, referring to the building's owner, Duane Hendrickson. Brink has been the building's property manager since Hendrickson purchased it more than 25 years ago. "It's the only residential property he's kept in his inventory."

Built in the mid-1920s, Capitol Hill Apartments began as studio apartments and, according to Brink, hasn't changed much since. She says it's too early to tell how much of the building will be salvageable. With the roof now gone, the top 12 feet of brick exterior is at risk of collapsing. The building has been turned back over to Hendrickson and is being assessed by his insurance and restoration companies.

Despite its age, the building doesn't have landmark designation, according to Bill Fruhling, principal planner with the city's Department of Planning and Community and Economic Development. "It's just a nice older downtown brick apartment building," he says. "It would be really nice if it could be saved."

Current zoning at the site is fairly permissive, allowing for residential, office and commercial space.

Lori Wirth, fire department spokeswoman, says the building will likely have to be completely gutted.

"There is a lot of damage," she says, adding that damages will total over $1 million. Wirth says that the age of the building will likely run up costs, too. "There's a lot involved in re-creating an old building like that."

According to Hendrickson, "If it turns out to be economically and structurally feasible, we will be able to begin repairs soon."

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