The proposed redevelopment of the Edgewater Hotel met with both public support and opposition last Wednesday when the plan was presented to the Urban Design Commission.
Amy Supple, development director of the Hammes Company, which is in charge of the new building plans, presented the current plan of the expansion to the UDC.
“We want this to be a place that is uniquely Madison,” Supple said. “We want this to be something that builds off the best of Madison, a vibrant destination, a portal to the lakefront and a compliment to Monona Terrace.”
According to the proposed plan, the Edgewater would expand to 228 rooms and have a parking structure with 346 spaces. A large public plaza would be featured at the entrance, with a series of cafes and restaurants lining the first floor of the hotel.
Supple said the plan encompasses “activating the waterfront,” with an outdoor terrace along the lake including causal dining on the water.
The existing building would be restored and another taller structure would be built just under the Capitol height limit ordinance.
The height and massing of the buildings in the proposed plan were the main cause of concern for some members of the public present at the meeting Wednesday.
The proposed new structure is located in a historic district and some are concerned the height and architecture of the building does not fit with the surrounding aesthetic and violates zoning height restrictions in the area.
“The hills of Mansion Hill are important and this proposal does not adequately complement the historic neighborhood,” said Madison resident Ledell Zellers.
Supple said the height of the building conforms to the Capitol height limit, but Hammes Company would be looking to work under a Planned Unit Development, which gives the developer more leeway in dealing with land use restrictions such as height limits.
Fred Mohs, owner of Kennedy Manor and real estate developer, raised other concerns, saying the plan “needs serious redrawing.”
Mohs said the structure would block the view of the lake from Wisconsin Avenue. As it stands now, the Edgewater is on a depressed slope, offering pedestrians a view of the lake when walking on Wisconsin Avenue, but with the redevelopment of the site, certain parts of the site would be at the same level as Wisconsin Avenue.
Other members of the public supported the proposed plan, saying it would beautify the area and create jobs.
UDC member Jay Ferm characterized the proposal as an “interesting project with promise,” but offered suggestions of redesigning certain aspects such as utilizing the lake more.
“The architecture [of the plan] isn’t stunning yet, but the vision has potential,” Ferm said.
Other members of the UDC brought up concerns of the height and massing, but most seemed convinced the project was fundamentally a promising idea for the area, given some revisions to the plan.
The proposal will come before the UDC again with a tweaked plan, addressing some of the concerns of the public and members of the UDC.