Plans for a twelve-story student apartment building on the 300 Block of Frances Street were delayed after the Urban Design Committee chose not to approve the project at Wednesday night’s meeting, citing ordinance violations and inadequate living accommodations for residents. 

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the plans for the building did not comply with a city ordinance which regulates downtown design.

“I support the design, but I still have concerns about the services for the students that will be living there,” Verveer said.

The space where the apartment would go is so tight that there is only enough room for a trash shoot, Verveer said. This means residents would have to carry their recyclables down to the ground level, which many people worry will deter recycling, he said.

Verveer said he was also concerned that there was only room for eight mopeds, and there is limited closet and storage space. He said these issues will need to be worked through before the project is presented at the Plan Commission meeting in December.

Randy Bruce, an architect from Knothe & Bruce Architects, presented the plans for the Frances Street apartment building. Bruce said they have been working through issues with the design and will continue to work with staff to address them.

“In our mind, we meet the guidelines and can show how this is comparable to other projects following the same guidelines,” Bruce said.

The project has been redesigned since it last came before the commission, and the newest design includes a green roof, he said.

Verveer said positive changes have been made, including adding windows to the north side of the building which previously had none.

Another major concern raised at the meeting was the high density the building would have. Bruce said Madison needs to adjust to its population size and cited Chicago as an example of a beautiful city with tall buildings that go right up to the sidewalk.

“Madison is going to have to get used to denser buildings,” Bruce said. “This is what is going to start to happen.”

Verveer said the UDC will meet again Dec. 5 and will send items forward to the Plan Commission meeting to eventually go before the City Council in January.

Theta Chi fraternity also submitted a proposal designed by Bruce, which the UDC approved. The plans would tear down the current fraternity house and build a three story house for the group.

The new house would have a strong academic motif and a gothic look, Bruce said. The modern house would be a great improvement over the current one which is in disrepair, he said.

The committee did express some concern for the back of the building, which was designed by twentieth century architect Frank Riley and would be destroyed. Riley, a native Madisonian, also designed the Governor’s Mansion and Madison East High School. The committee decided to support the proposal with some saying that the house was not his best work.

Ald. Bridget Maniaci, District 2, said she supported the project, but looked forward to receiving more feedback from her neighborhood on the project.

“It would be good to have some comments,” she said. “My initial reaction is it seems pretty straight forward.”

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