Local business owners and city residents voiced concerns over a proposed development at the corner of State Street and North Frances Street at a neighborhood meeting Monday.
The mixed-use development, proposed by the Mullins Group and Core Campus of Chicago and called “The Hub,” would be one to four stories on State Street and increase up to 12 stories away from the street, according to Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4. The building would include 200 to 300 apartment units, retail space, office space and 150 to 200 parking spaces, he said.
“We’re really excited to present this project tonight,” Brian Munson, principle for Vandewalle & Associates, Inc. a project partner with Core Campus, said. “[It is] really a vibrant addition to the State Street area.”
The proposal would call for the demolition of the University Inn, located on 441 N. Frances St., a four-unit apartment complex at 431 N. Frances St., a commercial building at 529 State St. and a parking lot.
Jeffrey Zelisko, principal of the architecture firm Antunovich Associates, said the retail space would be located on the first floor, with residential space located on the second floor and above. He said the development would include many amenities, such as an exercise room, balconies and a terrace pool. The development plans to fit in with the culture of State Street, he said.
Verveer said the development would create higher and better land use. The current vacancy rate in the downtown area is less than 2 percent, he said, which indicates a need for additional units.
“I’m always in favor of giving downtown residents more housing options,” Verveer said. “[However], this will clearly be out of price range for many UW students, and I fully admit to that.”
Verveer said he thinks the establishment would apply “economic pressure” on older apartments, which would cause prices to either freeze or reduce with the added competition.
He also said the development would affect several local restaurants, including Buraka, Husnu’s, Kabul and RoastPublic House.
If the plan passes, Roast would look to relocate to somewhere hopefully still in Madison, co-owner Henry Aschauer said. He said he hopes the developers help them and the other businesses accomplish this, especially since they recently signed a four-year lease. Aschauer added he found out about the proposal approximately 15 days ago.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty,” Doug Hamaker, co-owner of Roast, said.
Eleanor Lewis, a UW senior and front-of-house manager at Husnu’s, said she did not want to see the businesses forced out, particularly because Husnu’s has been at the same State Street location for 34 years.
She said if the plan were approved, Husnu’s would look to relocate to another location on State Street. She also said the owner anticipates high costs for the new retail space.
“It’s the kind of thing that gives State Street its character,” she added.
The plan will face the Urban Design Commission on May 8 at 4:30 p.m. for feedback, and will go back for approval around July 10. If approved, the plan will face Plan Commission, followed by City Council for final approval, Munson said.
He also said construction could begin as soon as early 2014 and reach completion by August 2015.