Neighbors of all ages came together Monday night to discuss a proposal for a new student apartment building on the 400 block of Mifflin Street that would warrant the destruction of the vacant Planned Parenthood building, a house and a structural parking lot.
A crowd of about 30 filtered into the Madison Senior Center to learn more about the proposal from Patrick McCaughey, the project’s developer, and to give their input on the plan. The group included community members, tenants, students and fellow developers.
“We tried hard to get something that the city is going to really like and that the people are going to really like,” McCaughey said.
The apartment building would be four stories high and contain 46 units with a small parking lot underground for cars and bikes.
Many who live in the area voiced their concern over preserving the charm and look of Mifflin Street in addition to potential issues with the height of the building. The architect behind the design, John Bieno, addressed these concerns when describing the plan for the building.
“We have softened the opening by putting up trellises,” Bieno said. “The building will have railings and stairs and porches that match the rest of the neighborhood.”
Bieno also said the structure of the building would be broken up into sections so it wouldn’t look so imposing. The building height was acceptable under the city maximum of 40 feet for a four-story building.
The apartments would be mainly one or two bedroom efficiencies and would be targeted at young professionals, graduate students and young families.
Some of the neighborhood’s younger residents were primarily concerned over the changing atmosphere of Mifflin Street. One student felt the culture of Mifflin was being pushed toward an older crowd in comparison with its traditional campus-based community.
“I like the building,” said Brandon Cook, a young property owner. “I would just like it somewhere else.”
Many of the students were concerned the cost of the proposed rent at the new building would push students toward living on campus with equally pricey housing. Students in attendance referred to the party scene and cheap rent traditionally associated with the area as a primary reason for living on Mifflin Street.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said he was heartened by the turnout, and though the meeting was helpful in creating his opinion, he still had mixed feelings on the proposal.
“The neighbors seem pretty split, which wasn’t very surprising,” Verveer said.
Verveer said his primary concerns about the building are its height and mass, but he said he approves of the design and the distinctive components.
While not all aspects of the plan are agreed upon, McCaughey felt the response was mostly favorable.
“I think we are starting to realize that downtown Madison is going to be a mix of people,” McCaughey.