A neighborhood meeting Thursday night allowed students and city residents to voice their opinions about the unknown future of the Stadium Bar.
The Opus Group, a real estate development company based in Minnesota, expressed interest in building a student-targeted housing development in place of the Stadium Bar earlier this month.
Julie Ledger, vice president of The Opus Group, said the corporation is excited about this specific location. The plan, she said, is still in its early stages. Originally proposed to be a six-story building, it is now expected to be an eight-story building, she said.
“Over the past few weeks, we’ve actually had some other thoughts,” she said. “We’ll be sure to lease with retailers who will really revitalize that side of the street.”
She said they would re-design the building until it satisfies the retailers.
Dan McCarty, owner of Stadium Bar, said the bar has had a successful run, but decided it was time to sell the property. He and The Opus Group reached a contractual agreement, he said.
“We’re lucky to have gotten a really great developer on the project,” he said.
Chris Gallagher, the architect for the project, said the commercial space would be on the ground floor and serve as the focal point of the apartment.
Its intent is to encourage interaction, Gallagher said. The building would include one, two and three bedroom units, with the possibility of other amenities such as a roof deck, he said.
“[It will be] a high-quality building that everyone will embrace,” Gallagher said.
Heather Stouder, planner of the city, said the building will allow for commercial building on the first level, with residential space above.
City residents and members of the University of Wisconsin Police Department expressed concern about parking and density, especially on game days. Residents said anything over four stories would be “unyielding,” and its height would be out of proportion compared to surrounding buildings.
“The minute you go above a certain height, studies show that crime in the building will increase,” Susan Riseling, UWPD chief, said.
Gallagher said parking will be available for students, estimating about 40 lower level parking spaces as well as 125 bike spaces.
Ald. Sue Ellingson, District 13, said she thinks this is the perfect location for a tall building.
“The advantage of having a tall building [is] it brings people to live in the area, [which draws in] customers for local businesses,” Ellingson said.
Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, said the area needs to house students. He said if student housing is going to increase on campus, it would naturally increase its density.
Residents said with Camp Randall being so close, it did not feel right to tear down the bar. With the Stadium Bar gone, another concern for residents is where some people will go on game day.
“Are we, as a city, promoting more beer gardens”? Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, District 5, said. “I would say no.”
Another student issue is affordability, and Ledger said she and the rest of The Opus Group are working to accommodate this.
Resnick said the city is also aware of this problem.
“It is a serious issue,” Resnick said. “[But] we are seeing, over time, the market change and prices going down.”
Bidar-Sielaff suggested the developers create a website for city residents to follow the plan.
The proposal is still in the works, Ledger said. It will go through the city’s development process beginning in February 2013.