Two city commissions got a first look at plans for the 100 block of State Street Monday. Although it was just an informational meeting, the comments were overwhelmingly negative.
Overture Center benefactors Jerome Frautschi and Pleasant Rowland have proposed razing half of the 100 block across from the Overture Center and replacing it with a glass office building and plaza, fronting Fairchild Street. Faades on State Street would be reconstructed.
"The building they want to build on the back of the street is so uninspiring. It seemed like it could be an office park," says Ald. Marsha Rummel, who sits on both the Landmarks and Urban Design commissions. "If they really want us to accept the offer of tearing down historic landmarks, what they build has to be fabulous."
If the plan is approved, two landmarks, the Castle & Doyle Building at 125 State St. and the Schubert Building at 120 W. Mifflin St., would be razed. Also slated for demolition is 122 W. Mifflin St., not a landmark but treasured by many preservationists. Several commission members asked if there was a way to save that building.
Project manager George Austin says the building needs to go to make way for the plaza that would sit across Fairchild from Overture. "That will be a difficult thing to find middle ground on," he says.
The plaza would be landscaped, rising in stages from the sidewalk. There may be a patio for a restaurant, but it will otherwise be private, not public space. Austin says the space will be designed to discourage public use.
"There won't be any benches or seating, other than what's at the restaurant," he says. "It won't be inviting for someone to linger, other than to get into the building."