A developer has a month to make changes to a proposed 10-story hotel near Capitol Square and next to a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home, the city’s Plan Commission decided early Tuesday.
In a 5-4 vote, with Chairman Ken Opin breaking the tie, the commission rejected the 164-room hotel at the corner of East Washington Avenue and North Webster Street proposed by the North Central Group of Middleton.
The commission, concerned about a sidewalk easement, the building’s height and the impact it would have on both traffic and the shadows it would cast, referred the proposal to an Oct. 27 meeting to allow for revisions and more review by the city’s Urban Design Commission.
North Central Group officials could not be reached Tuesday afternoon.
Also at the meeting, which began Monday evening and ended early Tuesday morning, the commission enthusiastically approved Urban Land Interests’ proposal to expand the Anchor Bank building at the corner of West Main and South Carroll streets on Capitol Square, demolish a hulking parking garage across the street, and construct a mixed-use building with 7,500 square feet of commercial space, 96 apartments and 550 underground parking stalls.
ULI’s land use approvals now move to the City Council. A key to the project, however, is if ULI can persuade the city to make a substantial public investment in the project.
In addition, the commission endorsed a proposed ordinance by City Council President Chris Schmidt to create a process for letting advertising companies take down billboards, get credit for the square footage, and erect a new billboard of the same size in a different approved location.
Schmidt’s proposal called for giving up one square foot for each square foot erected at a different site, but the commission recommended giving up two square feet to get one square foot. The city’s Economic Development Committee has recommended the one-to-one ratio. The UDC will consider those recommendations and forward its own to the council.
Chris Eigenberger, general manager of Adams Outdoor Advertising, which owns the vast majority of billboards in the city, said his company supports Schmidt’s original proposal and doesn’t believe it can back the two-to-one ratio because it makes poor business sense.
The commission spent nearly four hours on North Central Group’s hotel proposal for the former Pahl Tire Co. site, which would carry Marriott’s AC Hotels brand, described by the hotelier as “design-led, urban, cosmopolitan and tailor-made for modern travelers.”
The proposal includes 38 valet parking spaces, a green roof and a rooftop restaurant and lounge that would have views of the Capitol and lakes.
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Plans hit a snag over traffic concerns and a requested 3-foot easement along North Webster Street to allow a wider sidewalk. The plans already grant that easement on East Washington Avenue but a 20-foot portion of the building’s facade would be built to the sidewalk edge on Webster Street.
Other concerns were also raised about the building’s height and its relation to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home.
Earlier this year, the city adopted a report on the block filled with recommendations on how to allow development around the Wright-designed Robert M. Lamp House at 22 N. Butler St. The report mandates a shadow study for any development over four stories.
Zoning for the site allows for eight and six stories on parts of the site but the city can award additional floors for “exemplary design” and meeting other standards.
A shadow study completed by the city Planning Division determined sunlight to the Lamp House rooftop garden would be affected by the hotel between 10 a.m. and noon, but not afterward. It also showed sunlight would not be obstructed to the entire rooftop at any time throughout the day.
Commissioner Michael Heifetz, who has long criticized the city’s decision to allow for a separate planning effort for the block, was again disparaging of the Lamp House report.
“I’m not willing to bow at the altar for a few feet of shadows on the Lamp House … I understand historical things, but I don’t understand putting them ahead of the city’s interest,” he said.
Other commissioners expressed uncertainty about whether the proposal’s architecture met the city’s exemplary standard for additional stories.
The project already has initial approval from the UDC but now needs approval from the Plan Commission and City Council, and final approval from the UDC.