MADISON, Wis. — Members of Madison’s Urban Design Commission expressed a number of concerns Wednesday about a proposal to demolish three buildings in the 400 block of State Street and replace them with a five-story mixed-use development.
The panel heard an informative presentation from JD McCormick Properties, which is proposing a building with a two-story restaurant and between 23 and 26 studio and one-bedroom apartments next to Peace Park.
The building would have four stories along State Street and reach its full height along Gilman Street.
READ MORE: Urban Design Commission set to hear presentation on proposed 5-story mixed-use development on State Street
Among the concerns expressed by members at Wednesday night’s meeting was the replacement of several smaller storefronts with larger retail space. Member Jessica Klehr said whether or not the facades of existing buildings are saved, the elimination of several small retail stores to make way for a large commercial tenant gives her pause.
“I think it’s hard to let go of the idea of small commercial spaces that could be diverse and owned by small teams of people,” she said.
Kevin Burow of Knothe & Bruce Architects said the project was designed with what those behind the project believe would be the ideal tenant – a restaurant – but there is some flexibility in the space.
Several members also commented that the building seemed inappropriate given the current scale of nearby buildings.
“I question the impact and precedent this project could set in terms of breaking the rhythm of State Street, the height of this proposed building in the context of the other buildings around it,” said Russell Knudson, member of the committee.
Commission Chairman Cliff Goodhart disagreed with some concerns about the size of the building, saying that while the design team was still working, the project had a lot to offer.
“I also think a lot of thought has gone into planning State Street and saying four stories is an appropriate height,” he said. “Change is really difficult and these old buildings have been there for a long time and we’ve gotten used to seeing them there, but there’s potential there to bring a lot more activity and a lot more vibrancy to this block. .”
Several small businesses would be displaced by the project, including longtime State Street record store B-Side Records. Owner Stephen Manley told News 3 Now earlier this week he fears the store’s time is up and it won’t reach its 40th anniversary if the proposal goes ahead.
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