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Former Mautz Paint Co. warehouse (copy)

The long-vacant Kleuter building in the 900 block of East Washington Avenue would be preserved in developer Curt Brink's plan to create a boutique hotel on the block.

The design for a boutique hotel on the 900 block of East Washington Avenue was met with general approval from the city’s Urban Design Commission on Wednesday.

But the plan also calls for developing the rest of the 4.2 acre site the building sits on, and commission members and the city had questions about the future stages of development.

The $15 to $20 million project will turn the historic Kleuter building at 901 E. Washington Ave. into a 145-room hotel and restaurant

The building was built over 100 years ago as a warehouse for grocery wholesaler Kleuter and Co., and was later bought by Mautz Paint, which moved onto the site in 1928.  

The existing five-story building would be restored and an adjacent five-story building would be added on to create 94,600 square feet for the hotel and a restaurant on the ground floor. The project is in the process of receiving historical approvals to gain federal tax credits.

The addition to the Kleuter building attempts to mimic the building's style without copying it, the project team said.  

The project also includes a 133-stall surface parking lot, which requires demolishing a building at 910 E. Main St. The developer eventually plans to develop the rest of the site with more buildings, including a parking garage at the center of the site that will replace the parking lot.

But the city was hesitant to allow such a large surface lot and demolish the building, which it recommends keeping to “hold the corner” at East Main and South Paterson streets.

The UDC had no problem with demolishing the building at 910 E. Main, and recommended planting some canopy trees in its place. But the commission shared some of the city’s concerns about what the site would look like during various stages of development.

Commissioner John Harrington noted that while the UDC “hopes everything goes through as planned and everything gets built,” they have to be aware of the result if something falls through.

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The UDC granted initial approval, and asked for a temporary site plan for the space. The project will appear before the city’s Plan Commision on Sept. 18.

The design for the redevelopment of the downtown Madison Area Technical College campus at 211 N. Carroll St. also appeared before the UDC on Wednesday. The two-phase project would build a 10-story office and retail building and a roughly 200-room hotel.

Ald. Mike Verveer said constituents were comfortable with the land use of the project, but some asked for greater setbacks and wider sidewalks bordering the development. The UDC also pointed to setbacks as a potential area of concern. 

As it was an informational presentation, the commission took no action on the design.