In one of the final steps necessary before the beginning of construction, the proposed redevelopment of Madison’s historic Edgewater hotel passed through final approval in the city’s Urban Design Commission.
In an 8-2 vote, the commission decided to allow the project, which the City Council approved in May, to exit the city approval process. Edgewater architect David Manfredi said the plans for the building have been a constant since the last time they were presented.
Local residents have previously said they are concerned about several key aspects of the new hotel, including the view of Lake Mendota from Wisconsin Avenue.
“On the exterior of the building, the two most significant things we did [were] to reduce the canopies in direct response to how they were obtrusive to the public view,” Manfredi told the commission.
Many residents also said Edgewater’s lighting, designed to illuminate the exterior of the building, is too bright for the historic Mansion Hill neighborhood.
“A heavily lit building is highly inappropriate in an historic district,” local resident and Edgewater opponent Fred Mohs said. “We do expect it to be like the rest of the neighborhood ( … ) This isn’t Las Vegas where you have to shout out where you are.”
The architect responsible for designing the lighting of the hotel, Ingrid Masters, disagreed with Mohs’ statement.
“There is a complete polarization between complete darkness and a Las Vegas façade”, argued Masters, “We just don’t want [the hotel] in complete darkness and shadow.”
Additionally, UDC unanimously voted to approve a student housing proposal on West Mifflin Street. In response to citizens’ concerns, the architectural firm maintained that it has the neighborhood’s best interests at heart.
“The goal is to put the building back together the way it originally was, with the exception of the platform on the roof,” Manfredi said.
The apartment building, located on the 400 block of W. Mifflin, is currently slated to sit on the former site of a Planned Parenthood clinic. The developers proposed a four-story structure which developer John Bieno said will fit in with the neighborhood.
The developers claimed the type of materials used in the building will be reminiscent of the materials already prevalent in the neighborhood, with more masonry, but still utilizing wood siding.
One of the main issues raised by the Commission is the minimum of direct exterior access available in some apartments.
Committee member Mark Smith also expressed some doubts.
“I’m concerned about direct exterior access,” Smith said.
The lack of exterior access wasn’t the only issue raised by the Commission, however. The overall look of the building and how it fit in to the neighborhood was also questioned.
While the proposed apartment building is being designed as a four-story building, some said they were concerned it may not mesh well with the wishes of local residents.
Bieno said the residents don’t want the building higher than three stories. Some members of the city’s commission also noticed the discrepancy in size between the proposed apartment building and the surrounding area.
“It’s too massive,” commission member John Harrington said. “It’s too massive for that neighborhood.”