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The Edgewater Hotel is a historic hotel located at 666 Wisconsin Avenue on Lake Mendota. Opened in 1948, the Edgewater is currently the subject of a controversial redevelopment proposal.
The Edgewater Hotel opened in 1948, designed in the very recognizable Art (or Streamline) Moderne style--an outgrowth of Art Deco. The interior decorating of the hotel is inspired by famous Chicago hotels of the time. The Edgewater was eventually expanded in 1973, under the condition the public would be allowed access to the lakefront and roof. However, the expansion, made possible by a 1965 agreement with the city that sold the property to the hotel for $1, did not include gardens or promenades as had been earlier reported. Today, the roof is covered with gravel and staircase located beside the 1970s addition.
However, the hotel is still considered historic. Entertainers such as Elton John, Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Elvis and Johnny Cash have logged stays, some contributing autographed pictures to the hotel's Cove Lounge.
In 2008, Hammes Co. began contacting city officials about a potential redevelopment of the property.
- 107 guest rooms
- Eight meeting rooms
- The Cove Lounge
- The Admirality dining room
- The Pier - bar & cafe located on the hotel's Lake Mendota pier
The proposed Edgewater redevelopment would most notably remodel the current hotel, remove the top floor of the 1970s addition and construct a tower. Developers have promised improved lakefront and roof access. However, the redevelopment's design has continued to change from week-to-week. As of January, the developer's website listed these amenities:
- 228 guest rooms
- 24 "extended stay suites"
- Banquet facilities with movable partitions
- 5,000-7,000 square feet of upscale dining
- 2,000-4,000 square feet of dockside pier dining
- 2,000-4,000 square feet of cafe and ancillary retail
- Salon, spa and lap pool
- 30,000-40,000 square feet of public plazas lakeside
- Grand staircase to garden terrace and lake
- Lakefront walkway
- Dock, pier and boat slips
- Retail and office space
- 340-400 parking stalls
The Edgewater redevelopment was proposed by real estate organization Hammes Co., which is known locally for developing the Kohl Center.
The redevelopment has gone before the Urban Design Commission, Landmarks Commission, City Council and numerous neighborhood groups and city organizations. The intense controversy surrounding the project prompted multiple redesigns before the project was denied by the Landmarks Commission and City Council in December of 2009. However, in January of 2010 the City Council voted to revive the project citing attendance concerns at the December meeting. The Edgewater will again go before the council in late February.
Groups such as the Mansion Hill Neighborhood Association have come out in strong opposition to the project, saying the tower and other aspects of the design would create a new, unwanted precedent for the Mansion Hill neighborhood and deviate from the current feel of the area. While the redevelopment would fall within height limits imposed by the Capitol building, it would be the tallest building in the area.
The developers maintain efforts are being made to ensure the building would fit in with the curent historic neighborhood. Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, Ald. Bridget Maniaci, District 2, and neighborhood groups such as the State/Langdon Neighborhood Association have come out in favor of the project.
In 2009, the proposal's Hammes Co. came under fire for their early developing efforts, with some alleging lobbying and other protocol in the city had been violated. In August of 2009, former District 2 alder Brenda Konkel filed a complaint against the company alleging they failed to register as lobbyists for months after initial efforts began in 2008. The company eventually filed papers in February of 2009, stating anything previous should simply be considered preliminary meetings to test the waters in the city. Any mistakes made in complying with local law, the developers said, were unintentional and they were working with the city to fix them.
The Edgewater redevelopment currently has $16 million in tax incremental financing set aside for it by the city. While recent models have suggested the funding would be paid off by the hotel within a matter of years, residents and other interested parties have questioned the use of taxpayers' money to partially fund the project, especially at a time the city is already strapped for cash.
- Proposal goes before Urban Design Commission
- Proposal stirs controversy
- Capital budget includes TIF funds
- Redesign considered to address concerns
- Hotel managers oppose Edgewater
- Hammes Co. treats fraternity members to Packer game
- Tower height reduced
- Back in action with updated plan
- Revised proposal presented
- City council retains TIF funds
- Project goes before joint committee
- Landmarks Commission denies Edgewater project
- Hammes appeals to City Council
- Council to vote on Edgewater