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Proposed State Street boutique hotel

The $43 million boutique hotel would have a four-floor facade along State Street and rise up to nine floors at the intersection of North Carroll and West Dayton streets.

With strong support, the Madison City Council approved plans Tuesday for a $43 million, nine-story boutique hotel that would transform the 100 block of State Street.

Ascendant Holdings’ project would require the demolition of two buildings and partial demolition of two other buildings at 118-126 State St. for a 133-room hotel with a first-floor restaurant and a top-story bar and lounge. The council approved a zoning change for the hotel despite a negative evaluation from city staff over the building’s height.

On a voice vote, Alds. Ledell Zellers and Marsha Rummel were the only two opposing votes.

The hotel, which is on an angled lot, would have an up to four-story presence on State Street and rise to nine floors by North Carroll and West Dayton streets. The ninth floor would be smaller to make it less visible to pedestrians on the street.

It is planned to be operated by Provenance Hotels of Portland, Oregon.

Supporters argued the hotel could provide more customers for State Street retail and help reduce crime in the area.

“We cannot wait for something to happen at the top of State Street,” said Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District. “We need to act today. We need to act immediately to do everything we can to improve the environment at the top of State Street.”

Madison staff recommended the project not be approved as the building exceeds the six-story limit called for at the site in a Downtown plan.

“I just simply do not agree that the conditions that we need to judge this on have been met,” said Zellers, 2nd District.

Before construction could begin, though, the developer must demonstrate it has agreements for off-site parking for a valet service as no parking space would be provided at the hotel.

Koi Sushi receives license for liquor

The City Council also unanimously overturned Mayor Paul Soglin’s veto against granting a State Street sushi restaurant a new liquor license after the business lost a previous license this summer.

Council members voted 16-0 to grant a new beer and wine license to Koi Sushi, 502 State St. Alds. Paul Skidmore and Rebecca Kemble were absent. Council President Samba Baldeh did not vote as he was chairing the meeting, and Ald. Larry Palm declined to vote. Fourteen votes were needed for the veto override.

Soglin, who had left the meeting before the vote was taken, had argued the liquor license would contribute to alcohol-fueled problems Downtown.

Early last year, the City Council denied Koi Sushi a license to serve liquor, wine and beer, but the restaurant came back with an only beer and wine application that was granted in September 2017.

After the city discovered illegal remodeling work had been done to expand the restaurant’s seating area, though, the council decided not to renew Koi Sushi’s beer and wine license in June.

A new license with identical restrictions was granted earlier this month to Koi Sushi, which became the subject of Soglin’s veto, once the city confirmed the building had been restored to its previous condition.

Flood response recognized

The City Council also commended the efforts of emergency personnel and city staff for their response to the Aug. 20 downpour and subsequent flooding, along with honoring three passers-by, one of whom was Ald. Matt Phair, who helped save two people before a third person was swept away and died when their vehicle became stuck during flash flooding on Aug. 20.

Those in the council chamber gave a standing ovation to Matt Phair, his wife, Connie Phair, and Alec Lewis for their actions.

“The reality is if we had been able to save your dad, we wouldn’t be here,” Matt Phair said while addressing the family of Jim Sewell, who was the lone death from the flooding. “The surreal part about this is that we wish we didn’t have to be here.”

He also acknowledged the work first responders did not only during the flash flooding but throughout their careers.

“We did something on one night. You guys do it all the time,” Matt Phair said.

  • In other action, the council approved $40,000 to help keep open a Hmong- and Cambodian-focused mental health care center through the end of the year after the operator, Journey Mental Health Center, announced it would close by Sept. 28 due to the center’s accruing deficit.

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Logan Wroge has been a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal since 2015.