A city committee unanimously approved a proposal to demolish three residential buildings for the construction of a new apartment complex in the downtown area at a meeting Monday.
The Plan Commission weighed a plan to build a 12-story complex at the site of buildings located at 424 West Dayton, 226 North Broom and 415 West Johnson Streets. According to Eric Lawson, president and CEO of architecture firm Potter Lawson, Inc., the new building will have 319 units and consist of studios, one and two bedroom apartments. The building will be geared toward young professionals, long-term residents and students, he said.
The new building will have 12 stories facing Johnson Street and cascade down to four stories facing Broom Street, he said.
Lawson said the new project will require the demolition of three residential buildings which have been categorized as “obsolete” and “underused” sites by the City of Madison’s Downtown Plan.
Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, said she had heard concerns over a possible loss of affordable housing, especially for current tenants who will no longer be living in this location.
Brett Miller, president of Fiduciary Real Estate Development, said they would manage the facility themselves and help current tenants relocate to new places of residency. He also said he expects the new buildings to fit into the right marketplace, with rent for efficiencies starting around $1,000 a month and two-bedrooms renting for less than $2,000 a month.
Damon Terrell, a Madison resident, said he did not oppose the plan, but had concerns about affordability.
“I really want to stress that affordable housing is something that matters [to students],” he said. “I feel like I’m being priced out of [the city].”
Christopher Terrell, a young professional and lifelong city resident, also echoed this concern.
He said he was worried the apartment would cater to higher income professionals from outside the state. He said officials should focus on creating affordable housing for local residents and students instead.
“I’m looking at a city that doesn’t seem to want me to live here as much as I want to stay,” he said.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said he was in support of the proposal but also understood the concerns regarding affordability and the speed of the project’s approval. Verveer said he thought it felt rushed and some residents may not have received the opportunity to speak out on the project.
He said because of a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, regulation of rent in the state is illegal and as a result, nothing can legally be done to control affordability in the new complex.
Verveer said other concerns expressed regarding the new development were the need for wider sidewalks on Johnson Street and more exterior lighting on Dayton and Johnson Streets for pedestrians. He said the committee also wanted the developer to work to preserve as many trees as possible in the existing terrace.
Verveer said construction is slated to start in fall of 2013 and the project will take an estimated one year to build if it is approved.
The proposal will go before the City Council on March 19 and would then head to the Urban Design Commission to receive final approval.