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Proposed housing for Madison's North Side gets smaller, smarter
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Proposed housing for Madison's North Side gets smaller, smarter

Prism rendering

The proposed 27-unit Prism apartments on the North Side will include state-of-the-art smart technology and focus on energy efficiency and conservation.

A developer is downsizing, relocating and making more environmentally friendly a proposed housing project planned for a North Side shopping center.

The roughly $5.5 million, four-story, 27-unit Prism apartments promises state-of-the-art technology, including smart services for lighting, security, heating and cooling, entry and appliances, as well as solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations and participation in renewable energy programs.

“It will be the smartest apartment building ever built in Madison,” said Dave Bruns, whose family has long owned the Northside TownCenter, formerly know as Sherman Plaza. “We’re proud of what we’re doing.”

Previously, the Bruns family had offered the $10.5 million, four-story, 58-unit Warner View Luxury Apartments with 30 surface and 50 underground parking spaces in the shopping center’s parking lot along Sherman Avenue across the street from Warner Park.

The city, however, refused the Bruns’ request for tax incremental financing (TIF) support for that project, so the family downsized the housing project to four stories with 27 units and 20 surface and 19 underground parking spaces located behind the shopping center at 2830 Dreyden Drive. The Bruns family will not seek any city financial assistance for the current proposal.

The site, which now holds a single-story, 5,200-square-foot, 45-year-old building, had been envisioned for a second phase of housing if the original proposal had been built, Bruns said.

The proposed housing will still be within walking distance to the center’s grocery store, six restaurants, pharmacy, hardware store, banks, public library branch, and Warner Park.

Ald. Syed Abbas, 12th District, said the new proposal is getting a positive initial reaction from residents and city officials and that he’s generally supportive. He said the city needs both subsidized and market-rate housing units and that he likes the design and environmental elements of the proposal.

“My initial feeling is very good,” Abbas said. “I’m excited to see the project moving forward.”

Still, Bruns remains disappointed the city refused the request for financial support for the larger project, which would have been rare both as an investment in new luxury housing in the Northport Drive corridor and in placing an apartment building in the parking lot of an established retail center.

Bruns has said his family has invested $3.2 million in the shopping center in recent years and that the concept of placing housing in the parking lot emerged from a redevelopment analysis done with the city in 2014. Ultimately, city officials said that project didn’t need TIF support to succeed.

The Bruns family, which contested the city’s analysis, also made other arguments for city investment, contending that an apartment building at the location would help support the TownCenter by providing on-site residents to patronize a new Willy Street Co-op grocery store, the six restaurants and other businesses.

“We have an obligation to our tenants,” Bruns said.

If approvals are secured for the new proposal, Bruns hopes to begin demolition of the existing building and start construction in October.


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