T.J. Pyzyk / The Badger Herald

Plans to put up new apartment buildings in Madison’s downtown area moved forward after receiving the Urban Design Commission’s approval Wednesday night.

One of the projects, a 12-story apartment building on the 300 block of Frances Street, received final approval. The design of the building has been updated to better fit the needs of the future residents and community, along with meeting the city’s requirements.

The updated design includes a roof-top garden with a patio, alliums and sedum plants, according to the building’s architect, Randy Bruce of Knothe and Bruce Architects. He said the building will now include both recycling and garbage chutes, a window for every bedroom, additional moped parking and four bike racks.

The new plan also includes a four-foot setback that will allow for tables and chairs outside of the building. The restaurant that will occupy part of the first floor may use those tables and chairs, Bruce said.

“It’s a little more spacious,” he said of the new design. “There’s a little more elbow room. We fit into the context being established.”

City Planner Heather Stouder, who reviewed the project proposal, said the project meets all requirements except for two: there is not enough yard space and the landscaping requirement is not met, she said.

She also said the traffic engineer was concerned about the increase in traffic on Frances Street. She said the proposed setback allows for more pedestrian activity to take place.

“The design team and owner have done everything they can to meet the staff’s requirements,” she said. “The question is whether this program can fit on the lot.”

Usually buildings in this area cannot exceed 10 floors, but if certain requirements are met, bonus floors are granted. Design professional and UDC member Melissa Huggins said the building meets requirements in order to receive two bonus floors.

“From a design standpoint, this is a very beautiful building, and you’ve worked hard at it,” Huggins said. “I would like to see this project go forward. It’s a tough one, but we can’t get hung up on it.”

Bruce expressed his excitement about the two bonus floors that would make the building 12 floors.

“I’ve been saying since the get-go that the attractiveness of this building is in the height and the slenderness of this building,” Bruce said.

The commission also granted approval for a five-floor, 75 unit apartment building on Bassett and Dayton. A six-story building on the 400 block of South Park and the Northgate Shopping Center on North Sherman was also approved.

Knothe and Bruce Architects also requested initial approval for their eight-story, student-oriented apartment building on Iota Court and Henry Street. The project is controversial because it is much bigger than the other buildings in the neighborhood, and many neighborhood members have expressed that they do not support the project. UDC chose to defer the decision to Plan Commission, which meets Dec. 17.