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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Commission approves demolition of Highlander Apartments, holds off on decisions on historical properties


After a heated neighborhood meeting last week, debate surrounding the 100 block of West Gilman Street continued in a five hour debate at the City of Madison’s Landmarks Commission meeting Monday.

However, discussion on the Steve Brown Apartment development proposal, which would move the historic house on 123 West Gilman Street, and demolish the historic house on 127 West Gilman and the Highlander Apartments in place of a three building complex ultimately ended unfinished as the commission pushed off many decisions to their next meeting.

Although approving demolition of the Highlander Apartments, on 121 W. Gilman Street, the commission referred votes on the relocation 123 West Gilman Street and the demolition of 127 West Gilman Street to the next meeting.


Landmarks Commission also approved 113 W. Gorham St. as a relocation place for 123 West Gilman Street property if approved.

Steve Brown Apartment’s development team presented their project proposal development of three separate, neighboring brownstone buildings as part of their vision for the Mansion Hill Historic District.

The development team said Steve Brown Apartments wanted to maintain the historical significance of the area, but also add buildings that did not look so old and that would withstand the test of time, noting that “historic districts are not outdoor museums,” but rather “provide a balance between past, present, and future.”

Over ten residents of Madison spoke in opposition to the proposal following the presentation.

Jason Tish, a Madison resident, said he does not take an anti-development stance but a conservationist approach.

“A conservation approach does not mean a ban on change,”  Tish said. “It means guiding change to avoid unnecessary loss.”

Tish said he feared demolition could become a potentially detrimental pattern that degraded the integrity of the area. This project would “inflate” the visually related area test, meaning the building would be too tall for the surrounding buildings on the 100 block of Gilman Street, he said.

David Mollenhoff, a Madison resident, said the historic buildings retains the “richness, texture and diversity of the district.”

The Mansion Hill district is “remarkably intact and vulnerable” Mollenhoff said, adding that he saw removal of two of the sixteen contributing buildings on the block as a test of commitment to the district.

However, Rick Cruz, a Madison resident, said he viewed Steve Brown’s actions as a strong sentiment to revitalize the area and bring additional revenue to Madison. He said it signified innovation and progressiveness.

Amy Scanlon, Preservation Planner, said there were concerns about demolishing the buildings because structural reports showed it would be demolition by neglect, as repairs were not made when the buildings were bought.

Landmarks Commission members brought up concerns regarding architecture and the gross volume of the proposed building. Scanlon said these issues had to be addressed in order to move forward.

Additionally, Landmarks Commission discussed a proposal from Rouse Development regarding the construction of a six-story apartment building adjacent to the historic Lamp House landmark.

The Lamp House is a building on the national register of historic places and was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1903 for his friend Robert Lamp.

Jack Holzhueter, a board member of the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, said any building two to three times taller than the Lamp House would dwarf it and considerably change Wright’s intentions for it, setting a “terrible precedent.”

“It’s a step down a slippery path I think,” Holzhueter said.

Fred Rouse, the developer, said the proposal included a generous amount of green space to give the Lamp House some “breathing room” and with the added landscape, the proposal “beautifies and enhances” the Lamp House.

Landmarks commission referred giving an advisory opinion to its next meeting.

Aliya Iftikhar contributed to this article.

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