The Madison Landmarks Commission denied both a certificate of appropriateness and a variance to the new plans for the Edgewater Hotel Monday.
Hammes Company President Bob Dunn, along with design architect David Manfredi and Director of Development Amy Supple, presented the current plans for the hotel.
The plans would rehabilitate the original 1940s tower, remove the top three stories of the 1970s addition, and add an outdoor plaza, public lake access and an entirely new tower.
Ald. Bridget Maniaci, District 2, spoke in strong support of the plans, saying she did not think the new plans compromise the historic quality of the neighborhood.
“I would be very excited to have that in my district,” Maniaci said.
Other commission members said the new tower was simply too large to fit into the qualifications for a certificate, including commission member Robin Taylor, who said it was “huge.”
The commission denied the certificate, with only Maniaci voting to grant.
Maniaci then moved to grant a certificate with a variance in regard to the hotel’s volume, which would allow the commission to wave one or more of the criteria for granting a certificate and could only be approved if commission members agreed the design was visually compatible with “directly affected properties.”
Much of the debate surrounding the variance came from ambiguous language of the rules for granting a variance.
Commission member Stuart Levitan said “directly affected properties” referred to properties that will be able to see the new tower. However, Chair Daniel Stephans said it meant the entire district.
Commission member Erica Fox Gehrig said the purpose of the commission was to protect historical districts and the amount of public opposition on this matter indicates building the tower would detract from the neighborhoods.
Maniaci told the commission many members of her district have contacted her in support of the project.
“I would say that overall, my district is 60 to 65 percent [in support],” Maniaci said.
The commission eventually voted against the variance, with most members against saying the volume of the building was not visually compatible with the neighborhood.
Edgewater organizers can return to the commission to seek another approval. The City Council can also override the vote.