Developers for the Hub, a proposed mixed-use development on the 500 block of State Street, addressed Madison's Urban Design Commission for the first time Wednesday night. The nearly 500,000 square-feet project proposed by Core Campus Communities has caused some residents to raise concerns about a large building overshadowing its neighbors in what is arguably the city's most vital neighborhood.
On the issue of shadows, the group came prepared with a study that showed how a 75-foot step-back for the taller residential floors means the building would cast no more of a shadow than the four-story buildings located just to the east. Commission member Tom DeChant said he was "surprised by the lack of a shadow, you don't want State in darkness."
Critics of the project have pointed out a lack of affordable housing in downtown Madison, with a troubling trend of developers erecting amenity-rich high rises instead of basic apartment buildings more students and downtown residents can afford. The Hub's plan boasts courtyards, town houses, a rooftop pool and hot tub, attractions unavailable in the current student housing market.
"[The Hub] is going to be competing in the luxury student market," said campus-area Ald. Scott Resnick. "They believe they can compete against Lucky and Grand Central."
But Jeff Zelisko, an architect for Antunovich Associates, said the building will offer "micro units that are uniquely designed and create lower price points." He said the diversity of apartment sizes, ranging from efficiencies to five bedrooms, provides students with more options.
The biggest concern is over how the relatively large project will affect the feel of State Street itself. Zelisko said "integrating into State Street, paying attention to how it feels on the street and making it feel like it belongs" is one of his firm's most important goals. He again pointed to the proposal's step-back. The portion of the building that abuts the street will be no taller than neighboring buildings, with the tower set back 75 feet from the sidewalk.
"You won't feel this presence of a building right on top of you," he said.
Tom DeChant, the commission's alternate citizen representative, expressed some reservations, saying he "likes the project" but that the design "didn't grab me, it's good I just didn't go 'wow.'"
Core Campus Communities is hoping to begin construction in January, 2014, with the goal of completion by August, 2015. A formal application is scheduled for May 22 with the Urban Design Commission taking it up on July 10 and the Plan Commission weighing in on July 22. The developers are hoping for final approval by the Common Council on August 6.
View architectural renderings for the project provided to the Urban Design Commission, including a view of the building from Bascom Hill, in this informational submittal.
Correction: This article originally contained an incorrect date for when the Urban Design Commission will take up the development proposal and has been changed to correct the mistake.