Madison's Rocky Bluff Neighborhood Association takes its identity as a “neighborhood in a forest” seriously. So seriously, in fact, that when discussing a proposed redevelopment of the Party Port site on University Avenue, some residents were concerned that light and noise pollution from the project could affect the “area’s cherished, unique” Katydid (AKA bush cricket) population.
Although the neighbors still have some lingering concerns, they acknowledge that the developer responded to much of their feedback and made major changes to the mixed-use project, which will likely be approved by the city’s Plan Commission on Monday.
Flad Development plans to demolish Party Port Liquor, along with its distinctive sign, on University Avenue at Ridge Street, to make way for a mixed-use building and townhomes at 2901 University Ave. and 2902 to 2912 Harvey St. The project is known as “The Quarry Shoppes and Apartments at Mid Town.”
The site is about an acre and includes the one-story cinder block liquor store, as well as multifamily buildings along Ridge and Harvey Streets, all of which would be demolished.
Original plans for the development called for a U-shaped building that ranged from one to five stories, with the five-story height along the west side of the property. The building had 10,700 square-feet of first-floor commercial space and 52 apartments.
The RBNA had concerns about traffic and density of the project, and wasn’t a fan of the “5-story ‘wall’ on the western edge of the property,” which they said didn’t fit in with the single-family homes on Harvey Street. Neighbors wanted a design that better fit in with the “forested and rustic” nature of the neighborhood.
Since then, Flad has made major changes to the project, separating the building into two structures: a five-story mixed-use building and a row of two-story town homes. Technically, the two are still one building connected by underground parking, but look separate.
The five-story building runs along University Avenue, with 10,600 square feet of first floor retail space and 39 apartments. Eight townhomes run along Harvey Street. The development also includes 40 stalls of surface parking and 67 underground parking stalls.
Ald. Shiva Bidar, who represents the area on the City Council, said neighbors appreciated the new design, which allows for a better transition to the houses on Harvey Street.
The neighborhood association also liked that Flad moved to more natural materials like stone and wood, which they said better fit in with the “urban forest” character of the area .
Bidar said she expects the project to be approved by the city’s Plan Commission on Monday. City staff recommended approval of the project.
The design application for the project states construction is slated to begin May 2018 and end June 2019.