Last night, Madison Common Council unanimously approved a redevelopment project on the Capitol Square.
The move approved rezoning changes for a $125 million proposal from Urban Land Interests, on half a block of property along East Washington Avenue and Webster Street on the Square.
The project would preserve the landmark American Exchange Bank, while making large scale renovations to the property. The building would add 310,000 square feet of new office space, 22,000 square feet of storefront retail space, and the construction of an underground parking garage, holding roughly 844 new stalls.
Some community members, largely employees at the AC Hotel and Eno Vino restaurant, raised concerns, saying that the newly proposed construction would obstruct the famous view of the Capitol boasted by the higher floors of these businesses, and the only remaining public viewing deck of the Capitol.
Eno Vino Co-Owner Sara Granados says she’s not opposed to the development – just the design.
“Any development would be an improvement to this currently underutilized space on the Capitol Square, but I truly believe that more design work can be done to this proposed design that would accomplish the developers’ goals, while preserving the only publicly accessible viewing deck to the Capitol Building,” Granados said.
Public support for the project appears split. Eli Judge, President of Capitol Neighborhood Inc. voiced his constituents unanimous support for the redevelopment at their last meeting. On the other hand, Granados presented a petition, showing more than 1,500 signatures from people around the country who wished to preserve Eno Vino’s Capitol view.
Alder Michael Verveer, who represents the district in which the redevelopment will take place, voiced his impassioned support for the rezoning. In doing so, he cited the numerous economic benefits touted by Urban Land Interests: new retail space, parking availability, and the recruitment of union labor to construct the building itself.
Verveer recognized concerns about the loss of view, having witnessed many obstructed himself. But, Verveer said, ordinances don’t make that a viable concern in this case.
“I get it, believe me I get it, the loss of view comes up constantly, it goes with the territory downtown. It is not a standard that the Plan Commission felt was worthy, there is no standard relating to views directly enough that the Plan Commission thought was enough to oppose or refer last week…and I don’t really see any rationale for why you should tonight, why we should tonight,” said Verveer.
Construction on this project is set to begin in summer 2021, and will likely not be finished before summer 2023.
A traffic study from Urban Land Interests projects little impact on Madison traffic.
The proposal will head to the Urban Design Commission for a final sign-off before construction begins.