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Hub II faces uphill battle at Plan Commission

Hub II faces uphill battle at Plan Commission

Hub II rendering

A rendering of the proposed Hub II

The Hub II, an apartment building proposed for the historic Langdon neighborhood near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, faces uncertainty ahead of a Monday Plan Commission meeting.

The project, slated for 126 Langdon St., would be a seven-story building with room for up to 351 beds. It would also feature first floor amenities, a rooftop open space and 16 underground parking stalls.

A previous iteration of the proposal was denied by the Plan Commission in July 2020 by a 7-1 vote. That proposal was for a seven-story, 373-bed building. The Plan Commission decision came amid accusations by members of a neighborhood steering committee that Core Spaces, the Chicago-based development company spearheading the project, was offering space in the building to fraternities and sororities in exchange for their support.

The Campus Area Neighborhood Association was formed, in part, to ensure that moving forward, student voices were heard more authoritatively on proposals like Hub II. Core Spaces filed but withdrew an appeal of the Plan Commission decision, opting instead to offer a redesigned proposal.

But will the redesign be enough to gather support this time around?

Some of the key things the Plan Commission will be looking at are whether conditions that were not met earlier have now been properly addressed. The motion for denial in July was brought by Ald. Patrick Heck, who represents a neighboring district.

“The Plan Commission will need to find that the conditions which they determined were not met before, are now met,” Plan Commission Chair Ledell Zellers said.

According to information on file and provided by Zellers, the commission found that the proposal previously did not meet Demolition Approval Standards and did not meet Conditional Use Approval Standards 1,3, 4 and 9, which are based around how the proposed building would fit with the character of the surrounding area and whether or not it would be out of scale compared to adjacent buildings.

Neighborhood residents who participated in the first couple of rounds of the proposal remain skeptical that Core Spaces has sufficiently improved its plan.

“The Hub II project was the lightning rod that spurred the creation of the Campus Area Neighborhood Association,” said CANA President Amol Goyal. “As we opposed it then, we continue to voice our opposition for it now. The massing, size and scale remain excessive and the changes from the previous proposal are at best, minimal. While I am truly grateful for the developers’ repeated/continued engagement with the Neighborhood Association, this is how the neighborhood feels about the project.”

Bob Klebba, who chaired the downtown steering committee that reviewed the project and held neighborhood meetings with the development team concurs.

“There were several problems with the first proposal, most of which have not been addressed,” said Klebba. “The proposed massing is unchanged and the proposed architecture still does not fit in with the neighboring 10- to 20-unit residential buildings in the area. Interestingly, the massing of the previous proposal is one of the reasons the previous application was rejected. It is safe to say that the current application also doesn’t meet the Plan Commission’s standards of approval.”

But Core Spaces developers remain resolute in their goal of building the Hub II and feel like the changes they have made are strong enough to garner approval.

“I feel the project is much stronger,” said Rodney King, who leads the Core Spaces development team. “We are pleased with the progress due to our continued outreach with the neighborhoods, city staff and the alder. We hope the commission sees our genuine effort to make the project better and fit within the neighborhood context while still complying with all zoning/planning requirements.”

Core Spaces has been responsible for the Hub, on the 500 block of State Street, and The James, on the 500 block of University Avenue. Core has also proposed a 10-story development on the 300 block of State Street. The firm owns the Langdon Street property.

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