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Friday, February 27, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 3.0° F  Fair
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Madison committee recommends two proposals for East Washington, a third still being discussed
The Gebhardt mixed housing proposal for the north side of East Washington's 700 block.
Credit:Gebhardt Development

A committee looking at proposals for the old Don Miller car dealership site on East Washington is recommending the city accept two proposals.

The committee is recommending a proposal by the Rifkin Group to build a $24 million mixed-used energy efficient development on the south side of the 800 block of East Washington. On the north side of the 700 block, it is recommending the Gebhardt Development's proposal for a mixture of housing types, including 185 apartment units, 21 live/work lofts, and 33,000 square feet of retail and office space. Both proposals will be available online on Tuesday.

A third proposal for the entire north 800 block of East Washington is still under discussion. Urban Land Interests has proposed five office and retail buildings on the site -- a total of 236,000 square feet of space.

The city had received six proposals, but the committee narrowed the list down. Among the proposals rejected was one for an environmental hotel and hostel, that would utilize the state's Workforce Development to train workers; and a new home for Ale Asylum. Both projects are apparently being contemplated for other sites.

Ald. Bridget Maniaci, a committee member whose district includes part of the site, says the Rifkin proposal "really met the build criteria well... It was a really well laid out proposal, especially for that site."

She also liked the Gebhardt proposal but likes it better on the 800 block of East Washington, where is was originally proposed. The committee has asked it be moved to the 700 block, which is slightly smaller.

"He's willing to go wherever the city wants to push him," Maniaci says, adding that the city is trying to get a grand proposal for the 800 block.

"There's a desire to keep the 800 block for the full block development," she says. "I don't believe that's going to happen anytime soon."

"Subdividing that 800 block is what needs to happen," she adds. "It's unfortunate we didn't have a perfect combination of Tetris pieces to go on that block."

Maniaci was also disappointed that neither proposal has an affordable housing component.

The proposals will now get a full public airing, Maniaci promises. "This is where the ball is starting on the court," she says. "At the end of the process we'll see what happens."

Matthew B. Mikolajewski, Business Resources Manager for the Economic Development Division, says any of the proposals could change significantly -- or be rejected in favor of another one by Common Council.

"They're all going to have to go through due diligence," he says. "This is a first look at something that may change over time."

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