WMTV-TV's original home along the West Beltline Highway is slated to be replaced by a new, larger structure with technological improvements.

Plans submitted by station owner Gray Television, Inc., for the construction of a 29,000-square-foot building next to Channel 15's existing facility at 615 Forward Drive were approved by the Madison Plan Commission on Monday.

The proposal is for a building nearly double the size of the existing structure, parts of which date to when the station went on the air in the mid-1950s.

"We think it's a great opportunity to put a state-of-the-art facility in what is a great city," said Jason Effinger, the senior vice president of media and technology for Atlanta-based Gray.

"We think that the location of that property probably deserves something that is a little more in line with what Madison would expect from a leading television station in the market. It's time for a new facility, and it's time for the latest technology. We certainly have a good facility now, but it's the original building."

The plan is for a three-phase redevelopment of the NBC affiliate's 10.5-acre property that's visible from the Beltline between Gammon Road and Whitney Way.

The first phase, expected to start next month, is building the one-story structure with an upper-level mezzanine. The exterior is designed as vertically oriented metal panels with masonry and glass, including back-lit stainless steel.

The Urban Design Commission unanimously approved the project at its Nov. 4 meeting.

Demolition of the existing building is the second phase, and the third is building a parking lot on the site of the current structure.

Effinger said Gray has recently built new facilities for its stations in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Greenville, North Carolina, but Channel 15's new building will be the most advanced the company has put up.

"Pushing around HD and 4K video in an environment certainly demands a lot from your technical infrastructure," Effinger said. "And we're going to put the best of the best in there to give us the ability to serve the people better than we are doing already."

Gray owns or operates 50 TV stations in mid-size and smaller U.S. television markets, including Wausau and Eau Claire.

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