The Joint Campus Area Committee, which advises the Design Review Board on campus construction, met Wednesday to discuss plans to build a high-rise near campus and updates on the Nicholas Recreation Center construction.
Knothe & Bruce Architects Managing Member Randy Bruce and former University of Wisconsin Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Alan Fish presented a plan to build a 12-story furnished apartment building at 222 N. Charter Street.
The plot is across the street from the Zoology Research Building and the residence would be targeted at UW students — particularly engineering students.
Bruce and Fish requested a change in zoning for this property to accommodate the high-rise. The committee, however, voted to recommend the Plan Commission not approve their request.
The committee raised concerns about the zone’s ability to meet “setback” and “stepback” requirements which affect how easily pedestrians and bikers can navigate around a building.
“When you set up plans you have aspirations that you want to create a pedestrian-friendly environment — I completely get that,” Fish said.
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UW Director of Campus Planning & Landscape Architecture Gary Brown said it’s important to consider the input of surrounding residents when coming up with construction plans.
One of their goals, Brown said, is to “be a good neighbor.”
“[This plan] really doesn’t create a good neighbor feeling for the rest of us,” Brown said.
UW Director of Community Relations Leslie Orrantia raised concerns about the affordability and access of that type of high-rise for an increasingly diverse demographic.
Regent Neighborhood Resident Representative Mary Czynszak-Lyne agreed that approving plans for expensive apartment buildings and dismissing zoning laws would be unfair to students.
“I also have concerns about accessibility and affordability,” Czynszak-Lyne said. “We cannot have any more of this high-rise, high-priced housing and expect students to work three jobs to pay for it.”
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The committee ended their meeting by discussing the status of UW construction projects.
Construction at the Hamel Music Center will be enclosed by December. The soft opening will be in the upcoming spring, and the grand opening will happen next fall, according to a handout from UW Facilities Planning and Management.
Brown said construction of the Southeast Recreational Facility replacement — the “Nick” — is well underway and should be completed in Fall 2019.
In regards to projects in the larger Madison area, city planner Ben Zellers said the recent open house on “Mifflandia” was a success. Ninety participants — about 50 of which were students — were able to provide productive feedback on the planning process despite being split on the renovation of Mifflin St., Zellers said. Feedback can also be sent through an online survey.
The JCAC will meet again Dec. 12.