There were few compliments for Apex's concepts.
Architect Matt Tills was taking the crowd on a virtual reality tour of blocks just east of Capitol Square. Zooming in and out on his computer, projected on the wall, he showed the neighborhood group some visions for the 200 block of East Mifflin Street, the area including the historic Lamp House, built by Frank Lloyd Wright.
But as Tills zoomed in and out to get the right view of this computerized vision of Madison, he said, "I hope I'm not making anyone nauseous."
"I was nauseous from the beginning," muttered Guy Martin, a Capitol Point resident.
That was pretty much the mood of most of the people who were at the neighborhood meeting at the Gates of Heaven Synagogue at James Madison Park Monday night, to get a first glimpse at plans Apex Enterprises has for the area.
Steve Yoder, president of Apex, told the group of about 50, "we've come here to show you some concepts. Nothing is set in stone. We'd like to get some feedback."
Three of those concepts involved razing six houses on Mifflin Street, two more on Webster Street, and constructing various apartment/condo towers. In one option, a nine-story and 12-story building would be built on either side of the Lamp House, 22 N. Butler St., which would be surrounded by green space. A second option would connect the towers, over the Lamp House, essentially covering it. A third option involved building a narrower 12-story tower along Mifflin and moving the Lamp House closer to Webster Street.
Built in 1903, this Wright structure would be restored for a use not yet decided -- possibly a visitors center, house museum or guest house, said Bruce Bosben, Apex chairman.
The fourth option involved the Capitol Square North Parking Ramp, across Mifflin Street. In this option, Apex would add another level of parking and then four levels of apartment housing. What would happen to the houses across the street would have to be determined, Yoder said.
Each of the concepts would include 140 to 150 units. The first three would have some space for retail on the ground level.
There were few compliments for Apex's concepts. Several Capitol Point residents complained about losing their views and declining property values for their condos.
Some people were upset and angered by the concepts. "You are being foolish," said one woman, who said tall buildings had destroyed many East Coast cities. "Respect the vision of Frank Lloyd Wright and look to the future and forget the towers."
"All of these models, especially the first three, are fairly disrespectful to the Lamp House," said Joe Lusson, who lives on East Gorham Street. "So I don't think you're going to get away with it easily."
Former Ald. Brenda Konkel, who has written about the project, said what makes the Lamp House charming is the fact that it's surrounded by other historic homes, in a largely intact historic neighborhood. "Coming in and tearing out six houses just destroys the neighborhood," she said. "Moving the Lamp House is insane. Part of what's special about the Lamp House is that it was put in the middle of the block on purpose."
The option to build on top of the parking garage did get some support, because many people said the garage is ugly. But, at the same time, many Capitol Point residents objected to losing their views.
Erik Paulson, who is chairman of the neighborhood steering committee on the project, invited anyone to join the committee, to give feedback to the developers. But, Paulson added the committee will only have an advisory role and Apex "has the right to take that to the city regardless of what the steering committee has to say about it."