Downtown Madison residents have begun to weigh in on the proposed seven-story Hub II proposed for 126 Langdon St. The Hub II will represent the latest in student housing by the developer behind The Hub on State Street and The James on West Gorham Street.
Langdon Street is home to much of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's fraternity and sorority community, along with several historic buildings and houses.
During an informational presentation for the city's Urban Design Commission in November, representatives from the development group — Core Spaces — fielded questions about how the apartment building will fit in with the buildings around it.
Attendees at a neighborhood meeting last Monday, organized by a steering committee headed by downtown resident and business owner Bob Klebba, echoed UDC concerns about the architecture and weighed in on other issues the structure might create. Klebba said the meeting was a chance for residents to speak openly without the development team from Core Spaces there.
“There are some concerns about the noise," Klebba said. “The history with The Hub and The James has sensitized this neighborhood to the possibility for noise disturbances from a rooftop pool deck that is proposed and that was a very large concern. They are proposing outdoor amplified sound and pretty much everyone was against that and there was some discussion about whether or not that will prevent residents from bringing out their own sound systems and making it even louder. The building is out of place.”
The current proposal calls for the top two stories of the building to be set back from Langdon Street. There would be a fifth-floor rooftop pool/hot tub patio that could include amplified sound. The application Core Spaces filed with UDC called the projected building a “Langdon Street Multi-Family." But Klebba said residents don't think families will live there; it's for students.
“It is very well understood that this is designed for the sophomore,” Klebba said. “That is very clear in the design. It’s very well understood that this is just where one moves to after the dorms in freshman year and as a result a lot of the discussion was about designing for better behavior.”
One of the participants in that discussion was James McFadden, a Madison architect.
“The unit mix will appeal exclusively to sophomores who will be enjoying their first year completely off adult supervision,” McFadden told The Cap Times. “A concentration of unsupervised 19-year-olds does not benefit a neighborhood.”
Rodney King, senior vice president of development for Core Spaces, was reached for comment but did not reply to questions emailed to him.
Klebba and McFadden predicted there will also be a high concentration of pick-up and drop-off traffic at the building. The proposal is calling for only 40 stalls of underground parking and, during the presentation at UDC, Core Spaces representatives said they expect the living space to be utilized by a non-driving population.
“The other main issue is traffic,” Klebba said. “And they have allotted just a few parking spaces. But students are going to be using Grubhub and EatStreet and UPS and FedEx and Uber, and there is no allowance for that kind of activity in the current design.”
McFadden also called attention to the height and mass of the proposed building in relation to the neighboring buildings.
“There is a rich history of collegiate residential architecture that might inspire a more appropriate design,” McFadden said. “The adjacent buildings are relatively small. The proposed building could step up to the rear but the Langdon Street frontage needs to maintain the scaled rhythm of the streetscape. This could be accomplished by stepping back the topmost two stories and identifying recesses.”
The address is the former site of The Langdon private dormitory, which was seven stories tall but much narrower.
Overall, Klebba said, the objections do not represent a “knockdown” fight between the developer and residents.
On Dec. 11, Core Spaces will go before Urban Design Commission with new renderings for another informational presentation. On Dec. 16, there will be another neighborhood meeting with area residents which will include representatives from the development team.