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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Edgewater developer presents new designs

Matt Tucker, zoning administrator for the city of Madison, answered questions from alders at the Thursday night meeting regarded the zoning laws which pertain to the Edgewter, including its new waterfront setback.[/media-credit]

Edgewater developer Hammes Company presented new designs and project outlines to City Council Thursday, making Hammes one step closer to advancing their project before the proposal once again goes before the City Council on Feb. 23.

Among the designs altered are increased green spaces, access to the lake, aesthetics more in line with both the original building and the neighborhood and a more adaptable plaza that could be used year-round.

Tax Increment Finance Coordinator Joe Gromacki laid out some specific details of the $93 million development proposed at the end of Wisconsin Avenue.


Gromacki highlighted three hypothetical possibilities for the hotel redevelopment. Gromacki presented the projected profits for the development 20 to 30 years after the project’s completion, noting that the profits decline with each floor that is removed from the project.

A 10.2 percent return in profits from the hotel could be expected with the current 8-floor design, 3.5 percent with the 6-floor design and returns of -8.6 percent with a single level project. With the intended design, repayment of TIF however, could be accomplished in 3.26 years, according to numbers provided by Gromacki.

Perhaps the most closely scrutinized presentation of the night was that of Hammes President Robert Dunn.

“We’re putting a tremendous amount of effort into this design right now,” Dunn said.

Dunn noted his desire in carrying out the project is to create something that is uniquely Madison. As a prominent lakefront property, the project would be a defining feature of Madison’s shoreline. The hotel’s position accentuates Wisconsin Avenue’s path to the capitol building, andconsidering its proximity to Langdon Street, it’s a default gateway to campus.

He added by improving upon the current establishment, preserving the historic character of the original edifice and providing access to the lake, the hotel would once again become an asset to the city.

“Here we have an opportunity to bring about the character of design that was lost or never built,” Dunn said.

Complications regarding ordinances and legislations have been no stranger to Dunn. Issues with the original design’s proximity to the street prompted designers to move the building, triggering issues with an ordinance pertaining to lakefront construction.

“In a series of efforts to solve major problems…I created a new problem with the waterfront,” Dunn said.

Dunn highlighted current violations and discrepancies with respect to the current building.

Among a litany of code issues were Americans with Disability Act compliance both within the building and around its exterior, reconfiguring elevators and stairwells, and the condition of the brickwork on the original 1940’s construction.

Dunn attributed much of these hardships with the functional limitations of construction to when the hotel was first built and its most recent renovation in the 1970s. Addressing all but one of these issues, Dunn said, prompted necessary modifications to a slew of others.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said Capitol Neighborhoods Inc.had alleged employment numbers for the proposal had been somewhat inflated by Hammes, a claim Dunn said was simply untrue.

Dunn expressed his willingness to bring in independent contractors who could testify the projected figures of more than 500 workers was wholly accurate at this point in the planning and design phase.

Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, also questioned the project, by asking why condos planned for the two topmost floors could not be replaced with additional hotel rooms.

Dunn noted after Hammes had modified its original designs by removing the top three floors in accordance with neighborhood height limitations, economic viability for the project was drastically decreased. Condominiums were added to maintain a viable revenue source for the project and developers.

The project and legislation affecting it must clear a variety of city agencies before it goes up for approval once again Feb. 23.

Dunn said he wants to provide a plan he and city officials could both be confident in before the final decision can be made.

“This really is an important site in our downtown and a tremendous asset to our community,” Dunn said.

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