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Friday, February 27, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 0.0° F  Fair
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Frautschi, Rowland save historic buildings in redesign of Block 100 project on State Street
The ground floors of the Schubert and Fairchild/Stark buildings would include retail or restaurants, with offices on upper floors.
Credit:Findorff, Potter Lawson

Jerry Frautschi and Pleasant Rowland have redesigned their plans for the 100 block of State Street, eliminating a proposal for a private plaza and preserving the landmark Schubert building and its neighbor, the Fairchild/Stark building on Mifflin Street.

The changes remove the controversial elements of the earlier proposal and city officials predicted the project would easily get the needed approvals to move ahead.

"My guess is this ought to move very quickly through the city's committee process," Mayor Paul Soglin said at a press conference Friday to announce the changes.

Soglin heaped praise on the Frautschi family for sticking through the often contentious process to address the many conflicting interests.

Although some people praised the earlier plans for revitalizing the block across from the Overture Center, many others objected. Critics were upset that the city would be losing iconic downtown buildings, including one historic landmark (the Schubert) and another that qualified for landmark status (the Fairchild/Stark). Others objected to carving out space on the corner of Fairchild and Mifflin for a private plaza, upsetting the urban fabric.

Under the new plan, three other buildings would be demolished and replaced with a more modern office and retail building, fronting both State and Fairchild streets.

The changes will add $1.2 million to the cost of the project, which is now estimated at $11.5 million, said George Austin, the project manager. It will also increase the space by more than 11,200 square feet to just over 51,500 square feet.

The ground floors of the Schubert and Fairchild/Stark buildings would include retail or restaurants, with offices on upper floors. Rental profits from the development will continue to go toward the Overture Center, as originally planned.

Austin said that the "tenor of some of the debate has disappointed us," but added, "We aren't looking backward, we're looking forward." He said the family took the "long view" in evaluating whether to change the project in light of community opposition.

Ald. Mike Verveer, whose district includes the project, said "the revision of the plan is truly a homerun or a slam dunk or whatever metaphor you want to use. This one addresses all my concerns."

Three city committees -- the Landmarks, Urban Design, and Plan commissions -- are expected to immediately take up the project again. Common Council approval is not needed, because the project fits within neighborhood zoning and requires no variances.

Austin said the developers hope to begin construction this fall, with an opening expected in the spring of 2014. The developers will hold an open house on the project Thursday, June 7, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Promenade Lounge of the Overture Center.

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