After a three-month pause, a developer has revived and dramatically enhanced a proposal for a 10-story, 164-room hotel near Capitol Square and a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home.
The new proposal by North Central Group brings a new design for a Mariott AC hotel featuring a lounge, restaurant and other public space with striking views of the state Capitol and a glass facade at the corner of East Washington Avenue and North Webster Street.
The proposal for the former Pahl Tire site also addresses previous concerns raised by city staff and committee members.
“The new exterior design is striking, and we feel it will be an iconic architectural contribution to Downtown Madison,” North Central Group director of development Andrew Inman said. “Some of the best elements in the new design include bringing the public spaces to the upper floors. Hotel guests and locals will be able to enjoy a dynamic atmosphere and fantastic views of Downtown Madison from the AC Lounge.”
Jay Wendt, the city’s principal planner, said, “It’s much more of an architectural statement they’re making now. We’re supportive of the proposal.”
The revised plans still have sticking points that must be resolved, and it’s unclear how the proposal fits with special guidelines approved last year for the block that holds the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Robert M. Lamp House, 22 N. Butler St., Wendt said.
“I think it’s an improvement from the last iteration, which is definitely welcome,” said Ald. Ledell Zellers, 2nd District. “I do think it’s better.”
North Central Group will make an informational presentation to the Urban Design Commission on Wednesday. A neighborhood steering committee meeting is being planned for later this month, Zellers said.
At a Plan Commission meeting in late September, a motion to approve the project failed, 5-4, with Chairman Ken Opin breaking the tie.
The commission was concerned about height, shadows, valet parking, a requested easement along Webster Street, and the building’s relation to the Lamp House. In early 2014, the city adopted a report on the block filled with recommendations on how to allow development around the house. Zoning allows for eight and six stories on parts of the site, but the city can award additional floors for employing “exemplary design” and meeting other standards.
In early October, North Central Group put the project on “indefinite hold.”
The new plan improves the architecture, moves valet parking from the public right-of-way to the interior of the structure, addresses the easement issue by moving the building from the sidewalk, and more than doubles parking spaces to 80.
“The project accomplishes many of the city’s goals for Downtown,” Inman said, “not the least of which is activating the 200 block of East Washington Ave.”
The project will need final approval from the Urban Design Commission and approvals from the Plan Commission and City Council.