Several downtown residential proposals were granted unanimous approval from a city commission at its meeting Wednesday evening, including two that would provide new housing for University of Wisconsin students.
The Urban Design Commission unanimously approved three downtown area developments, including a proposal by Joseph Lee and Associates that would primarily target UW students at its location on North Brooks Street.
The proposal was met with some opposition at the meeting by UW Campus Planning Director Gary Brown, who said the development would not fit well with the layout of the current Brooks Street community.
“The university continues to take issue with this project because it doesn’t conform to the neighborhood plan,” Brown said.
However, Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, expressed his support of the development to UDC members.
He added he thought the proposal would fit well in the neighborhood, contrary to Brown’s belief.
“This is a strong piece of urban development, and I think it does match a consistency in the neighborhood,” Resnick said. “There are many pieces to this project that I like quite a bit, particularly how it approaches parking issues … being in close proximity to campus. I feel like it would be very appealing to students. I see this as being a strong project for my district.”
The meeting marked the fourth time JLA architect Joseph Lee presented his proposal for the North Brooks Street development. Madison’s Plan Commission also discussed the proposal and weighed the matter, Lee said.
A second residential development that gained unanimous approval featured a 65-foot development on West Dayton Street. The development would be constructed adjacent to a fire station currently used as a residential building on Dayton and Randall Streets, according to Randy Bruce, architect at Knothe and Bruce Architects, LLC. The plan would also include the decommissioning of the residential station.
In its second presentation at UDC, Bruce gained unanimous support for the initial approval from the commission.
The third approved proposal was presented by Valerio Dewalt Train, an architectural firm out of Chicago. The proposal would work to rehabilitate an apartment building on East Mifflin and North Webster Streets that was significantly damaged in a fire last summer.
Commission members expressed their support for the proposal, calling it a beneficial project for the damaged building.
“This [is a] transition of this building,” UDC member Melissa Huggins said. “You’re inserting a modern dialogue that is very intriguing, and this building can now have a new life. It’s a modern insertion.”
VDT Principal Architect David Jennerjahn said the company plans to purchase the building, currently owned by Urban Land Investments of Madison, and rehabilitate the areas damaged by fire and other weather elements in the past months.
Jennerjahn added the company has discussed its plans with Mansion Hill Neighborhood Association, which fully supported the proposal.
“This is gratifying to work on because everyone is happy we’re saving the building,” Jennerjahn said. “All the feedback we’ve gotten so far has been very positive.”
Jennerjahn said the plan would manipulate the interior design of the building, creating a more modern design for continued, viable residential use.