An Atwood Avenue redevelopment proposal could give a Madison chocolate shop an increase in space across the street from its current location.

Developer Joe Krupp's four-story, 30-apartment project at 2087 Atwood Ave. is scheduled to go before the Plan Commission on Nov. 2. It features around 3,300 square feet of retail space that is scheduled to be the future home of Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier.

Ambrosius' current location at 2086 Atwood Ave. is a one-story, 2,000-square-foot building constructed in 1960.

Plans for Krupp's proposal show 1,800 square feet of first-floor retail space, with production space of 1,500 square feet in the lower level.

Ambrosius said she has been seeing an opportunity for more space out her front window for years. She said she tried twice to buy the one-story building that now sits on the land proposed for redevelopment.

"Actually, it turned out for the best that it didn't work out for me because it just would have been a little too much for me to bite off," Ambrosius said. "I don't need to be a building owner. Running a chocolate shop is enough for me."

The project, which could break ground next spring and be completed in the spring of 2017 if the Plan Commission approves, includes the demolition of the building across Atwood Avenue from Ambrosius' current store. It formerly housed Heartland Litho and most recently served as warehouse space for Schoep's Ice Cream, which has a plant on nearby Division Street.

The land, assessed at $85,200, is between Monty's Blue Plate Diner and the United Way headquarters on Atwood Avenue. It's been a popular area for development recently.

A similar four-story Krupp development at 2158 Atwood Ave. was recently completed with commercial space below 32 residential units.

The 52-unit Kennedy Place Apartments at 2045 Atwood Ave., with 17,000 square feet of commercial space, opened in 2004.

Krupp said location, character and the availability of restaurants and entertainment options have attracted young professionals to the Schenk-Atwood neighborhood.

"It just seems like this near east side is very attractive to the demographic that's growing in the Madison workforce right now," Krupp said.

Ambrosius said staying in the neighborhood was a must when she was looking for larger spaces for her business.

She started the company almost 11 years ago in a 600-square-foot upstairs space near First and Main streets before moving to the current location in the fall of 2006.

"It's so vibrant," Ambrosius said of the Atwood neighborhood. "You can walk anywhere and find a great restaurant, a wonderful place that you'd like to shop. The Barrymore (Theatre) is the anchor — that's the one that I think really kicked everything off and really turned this neighborhood around."

Plans for the new development call for 10 efficiencies and 20 one-bedroom units, with 30 underground parking stalls.

The split-level retail component will give Ambrosius the ability to have a separate production room on the lower level while maintaining some work space on the main level for shoppers to peek in on the chocolate-making process.

"This is going to work out fabulous," Ambrosius said. "I'm really excited."

A neighborhood meeting about the project on Wednesday was sparsely attended, District 6 Ald. Marsha Rummel said. The response was positive overall, she said, with a few questions about the traffic circulation because the project also involves sharing parking and a driveway with Monty's.

Krupp called the process so far one of the smoothest he's been through.

"Everything's been really positive on this project from the onset," he said. "The alderperson was supportive. The planning and design committee from the neighborhood loves it. There's no attachment to the building that's being removed, and it's not really directly in any kind of residential neighborhood."

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Todd D. Milewski covers Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey and the UW Athletic Department for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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