Members of the Urban Design Commission voted Wednesday to refer the discussion of plans to renovate the 100 block of State Street to its next meeting, marking the second commission this week that has been unable to make a comprehensive decision on the proposal.
Architect of 100 Block Foundation Douglas Hursh presented plans for the renovations of State Street’s 100 block to the commission and said the renovations would preserve and enhance the commercial aspects of the street.
The project, which would be entirely privately funded, would demolish several buildings on the 100 block and create space for retail, restaurants and offices.
“The projects are intended to increase quality of our downtown,” Hursh said.
The historic landmark Castle and Doyle building would not be demolished with the other six properties on the 100 block, Hursh said, but historically accurate windows and a doorway would be put in place.
Director of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art Stephen Fleischman addressed the commission and expressed his approval of the renovations proposed by the 100 Block Foundation.
“I applaud this project for two reasons,” Fleischman said. “I applaud it because it keeps the scale of State Street intact and because it keeps its retail presence intact.”
Several citizens of the Madison area attended the meeting and expressed their opposition to the State Street renovations.
Hursh also said a main goal of the plans is to transform, energize and enliven the adjacent North Fairchild Street.
“[The plans] would create a space that invites someone to walk that way, the way it doesn’t do today,” Hursh said of the renovations to Fairchild Street.
The commission expressed concern for the Fairchild building at the corner of North Fairchild and State Streets, and encouraged the design teams to preserve that particular building.
Jason Tish, executive director for the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation, proposed an alternative plan to 100 Block Foundation’s plans that focused on rehabilitation of the current buildings. Tish said the authenticity and character of State Street’s 100 block would be compromised by 100 Block Foundation’s renovations.
“We completely agree there’s an opportunity to make downtown better,” Tish said. “We believe a rehabilitation approach could reach all the goals [of the 100 Block Foundation's plans].”
George Austin, 100 Block Foundation project manager, said the renovations to State Street would create 75 construction jobs and potentially more than 125 positions within the buildings once the renovations had been completed.
Tish responded that a rehabilitation approach to State Street’s 100 block would create as many or more jobs, arguing rehabilitation construction tends to be more labor-intensive than the plans proposed by the 100 Block Foundation.
The city’s Landmarks Commission largely approved the State Street renovation plans at its meeting Monday night, but voted to refer the most controversial aspects of the plan, including the demolition of the landmark Schubert building on West Mifflin Street, to its next meeting Feb. 13.
Austin said the renovation plans will next be discussed at the Madison Plan Commission meeting, scheduled for March 5.