Demolition By Neglect

Alder Rummel employs defensive strategy to retain Landmarks control over new project after developer appeals earlier demo denial to full Common Council

A four-story mixed-use building is proposed for this site currently occupied by a single family home.

After being spared several times, the Landmarks Commission has approved it’s demolition. However, the building that is proposed to replace it has not yet been approved.

Just weeks after the house at 906 Williamson appeared to have it’s Lazarus moment, it appears now it will likely be demolished. Last night (July 6) the Landmarks Commission approved the demolition after District Six Alder Marsha Rummel, who serves on Landmarks, requested reconsideration after the Commission denied permission last month.

The Commission voted 3-2 with Chairman Stu Levitan breaking a tie vote along with Rummel Commissioner Jason Fowler. Developer Louis Fortis is seeking to demolish the 1900s era house and build a four story mixed-use building.

According to an email to constituents on the MNA Listserv, Rummel acted at last night’s meeting after the developers indicated they were going to appeal the June 15 denial by Landmarks to the full City Council.

“If the appeal went to the Council, the Council could have overturned the denial of the Certificate of Appropriateness and approved the proposed new construction as presented. The Council would look at the record and the ordinance but the appeal language grants them latitude to consider other factors. I was also concerned about the message to developers if the Council upheld the appeal,” Rummel wrote.

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Drug Raid on Jenifer Street Brings Out Police Toys

Madison Police SWAT team deployed to 900 block Tuesday afternoon

A Madison Police Assault vehicle takes a position in front of 909 Jenifer Street which was the target of a drug raid, June 16, 2015.

A Madison Police Assault vehicle takes a position in front of 909 Jenifer Street which was the target of a drug raid, June 16, 2015.

Madison Police executed a search warrant in the 900 block of Jenifer Street yesterday (June 16) just after 12:30 p.m. as part of a investigation into drug activity. Traffic was blocked off for the entire block while members of the Madison Police SWAT team moved in.

Neighbors reported seeing a large military-style vehicle painted in black with Madison Police markings park in front of the home and a public address speaker on the vehicle told the occupants that they [the police] were aware they had guns. Kendall G. Ragland, 36, was arrested  during a high risk traffic stop on south Carroll Street and charged with four felonies and one misdemeanor in relation to the investigation.

Madison Police Department says that the raid was the result of a seven month investigation which recovered more than 32 grams of heroin and more than 14 grams of cocaine as well as other evidence but so far there is no information that weapons were found; however the investigation is ongoing.

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Madison Metro Bleeps-out Beeps

City bus administrators relent to public pressure regarding noisy turn signals

No more beeps when Madison Metro bus turn signals are on.

No more beeps when Madison Metro bus turn signals are on.

Madison Metro gave a heads-up to alders today in an email on a decision to turn off the audible turn signals that have been driving neighborhood residents crazy throughout the city, especially in quiet areas late at night.

Metro had installed the system on it’s buses to increase awareness as the bus was pulling in and out of stops to reduce the chance of collisions. The decision to add the system was partly in response to a fatality several year ago when a turning bus struck a pedestrian on University Avenue.

Allison Smith, who lives near the Edgewater in the Mansion Hill neighborhood and on the #81 bus line started noticing the beeping in January. The #81 has a schedule that runs until 2:20 a.m. on weekdays and 3:20 a.m. on weekends and after living through two years of Edgewater construction she started to research the impacts of noise on health.

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Landmarks Denies Demolition Permit for 906 Willy

Preservation versus exceptional new design at the crux of the vote

The Landmarks Commission meeting on June 15, 2015. (clockwise) Commissioners David McClean, Erica Fox Gehrig, Micheal Rosenblum, Commission Staff, Chairman Stuart Levitan, Randy Bruce, Knothe-Bruce Architects, Commissioners Christina Slattery and Marsha Rummel.

The Landmarks Commission meeting on June 15, 2015. (clockwise) Commissioners David McClean, Erica Fox Gehrig and Micheal Rosenblum, Commission Staff, Chairman Stuart Levitan, Randy Bruce of Knothe-Bruce Architects, Commissioners Christina Slattery and Marsha Rummel.

The status of a new development at 906 Williamson Street is in doubt after the Landmarks Commission voted 4 to 1 today (June 15) to deny a demolition permit to remove a 114 year-old four-bedroom home that is currently on the site.

The original project was proposed late last year by developer Louis Fortis and has gone through an evolution as both the neighborhood via the Marquette Neighborhood Association and Landmarks have weighed-in. Knothe-Bruce Architects has been shepherding the project and has made many adjustments based on neighborhood input.

However much of the staunch resistance has been from Landmarks itself which signaled it’s opposition to allowing demolition of the home when Knoth-Bruce made an informational presentation at the commission’s April meeting.

The neighborhood has shown a fair amount of opposition as well, arguing the home, while not a notable landmark, contributes to the historic character of the Third Lake Historic District. The development has had it’s supporters as well, contending that this particular home is beyond saving and would require repairs that might approach it’s current value. Additionally, many felt that it was only one of two single-family homes remaining on a block that is almost entirely commercial.

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Buraka Unveils Plans for Façade, Patio

MNA P&D to consider Buraka and Gib’s Bar request for outdoor seating

Plan for the exterior to the new Buraka, which will occupy 1210 Williamson.

Plan for the exterior to the new Buraka, which will occupy 1210 Williamson.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association Preservation & Development Committee meets Tuesday (June 9) to consider and vote on two requests for outdoor seating and one alcohol license. Maron Ragassa, owner of the much-hailed Buraka (1210 Williamson), has revealed drawings for the upgraded front of the building and rear deck and is seeking neighborhood support.

The concrete block building, which was constructed in 1966, has housed such venerated businesses as the Willy Bear and the just departed Jolly Bob’s, but is mostly architecturally unremarkable. This should win easy clearance from the Landmarks Commission; their staff report says Ragassa will have to modify the planned exterior insulation and siding as well as provide more detail about how the rear deck will relate to the building.

Plans submitted to Landmarks shows a layout very similar to Jolly Bob’s with seating for 40 and additional 17 at bar stools. Another eight could be seated outside. Inside capacity is shown at 74 with District Six Alder Marsha Rummel reporting a total capacity of 119. Buraka will be applying to the Alcohol Licensing Review Committee for a Class B combo liquor license with 30 percent alcohol to 65 percent food ratio.  Continue reading

906 Willy Developers May Have to Preserve Home to Win MNA and Landmarks Support

Second public meeting set for today as project bumps against neighborhood plan, historic ordinances

Developer Louis Fortis is seeking to build a four-story mixed-used building at the corner of Paterson and Willy Streets. Courtesy: Knothe-Bruce Architects

Developer Louis Fortis is seeking to build a four-story mixed-used building at the corner of Paterson and Willy Streets. Courtesy: Knothe-Bruce Architects

Another proposed mixed-used development at 906 Williamson Street is facing some opposition from the neighborhood and the City Of Madison Landmarks Commission over it’s height, low percentage of affordable housing, green space and demolition of a 4-bedroom single family home currently on the site.

Earlier this year Louis Fortis, who owns the Gateway Mall, proposed to demolish the current home and build a four-story mixed used building with 26 apartment units, underground parking, retail space on the first floor along Willy, indoor and outdoor bike parking, rooftop patio and green roof.

In the interim, Knoth-Bruce Architects has been working with Marquette Neighborhood Association to earn it’s endorsement since they feel it will be very helpful in their petition before Landmarks which says the design is okay, with somewhat minor changes, but they are leery about approving the demolition. MNA wants to see a shorter building, more affordable housing and the current home preserved.

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Marquette Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt this Sunday

Festivities begin at 10 a.m. in the center of the park

Examining their loot after the bing, frantic hunt in Orton Park, April 20, 2014.

Examining their loot after the bing, frantic hunt in Orton Park, April 20, 2014.

Marquette Neighborhood residents will be holding an Easter egg hunt for children on Sunday April 5, 2015. Arrive at 9 a.m to hide the eggs with the hunt to commence at 10 a.m. Organizers also suggest attendees can bring a dish to share at the gazebo following the hunt.

Over 40 children and their families gathered last year to share food and race across the park to find plastic eggs filled with all the things kids like in an egg, various forms of candy. Organized again this year by Meghan Blake-Horst and Lynn Lee, the gathering harkens back to earlier neighborhood events that were smaller and more organic.

See the event’s facebook page for more information.

See photos from last year’s hunt below:

Marquette Neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt 2014

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Participants are made to run in a circle to make sure they are properly warmed up for the hunt.
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A pre-hunt briefing was held with different age groups sent to different areas of the park.
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And they are off!
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A fair bounty secured by this young participant
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Adults were allowed to help as needed.
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This location served up a quandary for several boys. Many tried leaping, throwing twigs, but later was dislodged by an adult.
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Happiness is your friends and a basket full of plastic Easter eggs.
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This boy was fleet of foot...literally.
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The photographer kept a close eye on this egg, but rarely was an egg rescue attempted. However it was eyed often by kids as they passed by.
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Dad leads the way with his egg-tracking ears.
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One girl rests and reflects on her effort this morning.
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Unrestrained joy.
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Having found their eggs, these two girls had moved onto chatting about other things.
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Sorting their loot
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The tools of the trade. Razor, liquids, and the 21st century Easter basket, the bike helmet.
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Food always follows a successful hunt.
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Co-organizer Lynn Lee.

Is #WillyStreet ‘A Place For All People’?

Police shooting highlights shortcomings in our progressive culture

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Tony Robinson, in a picture released by his family the night of his death.

Friday was the day we all realized that our neighborhood, which over the decades has changed for good in many ways, really hasn’t changed at all. Sitting with family and friends for dinner at Take Five, we saw an urgent parade of police vehicles pass by, seven in all.

It is normal to see ambulances and fire trucks on this important artery through the Near East Side. But this was different; we knew a serious situation was occuring when so many police are the first to rush by.

A regular patron headed down the street to investigate and reported back that shots had been fired in the 1100 block of Williamson Street. His information was rushed and proved accurate on only two points: that someone had been shot and that he saw CPR being peformed on an individual before an ambulance took him away.

I say “him” because it was Tony Robinson who was killed during a scuffle with a Madison Police officer. His eventual death has displayed in very stark terms this city’s continued struggle with race, police deadly force protocol and access by our minority communities to Madison’s perennial “Best Place to Live” status.

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Four-Story Building Proposed at Willy and Paterson Streets

Twenty-six multi-family units will top commercial space and underground parking

A four-story mixed-use building is proposed for this site currently occupied by a single family home.

A four-story mixed-use building is proposed for this site currently occupied by a single family home.

A developer tied to the property currently occupied by Plan B nightclub is proposing a redevelopment of 906 Williamson Street upon which currently resides a single-family home owned my Petinary proprietor Micheal Kohn.

Louis Fortis, owner of the Gateway Mall at west end of Willy, wants to demolish the current structure and replace it with a four-story mixed-use building with 5000 square feet of ground level commercial space and 26 multi-family units on the three floors above. Underground parking would hold 21 spaces for cars.

District Six Alder Marsha Rummel is holding a neighborhood meeting on Thursday February 5, 2015 at 7 p.m. at Wil-Mar Center to discuss the proposal. Rummel said in an email to the Marquette Neighborhood Association listserv that the developer has not submitted an application to the City of Madison until they receive neighborhood input. She says Architect Randy Bruce is designing the building.

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One-third of Jenifer Trees to be Replaced in Reconstruction Zone

Forestry to replace some, but not all, with shorter, power line-friendly trees

Jeni7The glorious leafy canopy that arches majestically over Jenifer Street is unlikely to return after a large street reconstruction this year. A city-wide policy of replacing trees with a species that will top-out below power lines will likely have a huge impact on the character and aesthetic of the neighborhood.

The City of Madison Forestry Division will remove approximately one-third of the trees along Jenifer between Spaight and Few Streets, mostly in an effort to protect against the Emerald Ash Borer.

“There is no way to reproduce the amount of canopy that will be lost, many of the ash preemptive removals are located under high voltage power lines,” Madison Parks Community Services Manager Dawn Grosdidier wrote in an email to Willy Street Blog. For these sites we will be replanting smaller, power line compatible tree species which is our standard practice across the city.”

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