Saving Trees From the Ground Up

Proposal would allow higher tree heights on terraces currently limited by powerlines


The Guyot house (right) has had this power pedestal outside their home since they undergrounded their power lateral in the late 1970s. MNA is considering a proposal to underground the primary power lines to maintain the high tree canopy which is threatened by MG&E’s tree planting policy.

The once-delayed major reconstruction or a four block stretch of Jenifer Street is moving forward again but residents are still working to blunt the impact of what may be stark changes to the look and function of the street.

The most recent initiative from neighbors is to advocate for the undergrounding of the primary power lines to help maintain the current tree canopy. The fabled canopy is under a dual threat from forced removal of trees due to the Emerald Ash Borer and any replacement trees being of a species that grows no higher than below the current power lines.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association Board (MNA) will vote this week via email to forward a recommendation to the City of Madison to include partial undergrounding of the primary power lines to help preserve the tree canopy. The initiative grew out of a series of meetings on the Jenifer reconstruction that have been held in the past months by MNA.

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Olds Building May Become Concrete Lofts

McGrath Property Group proposes lofts and a new 5-story building along bike path

McGrathOverhead_CWThe McGrath Property Group is trying where The Baldwin Group has failed, to redevelop on the north side of the 700 block of Willy Street. In a letter sent to District 6 Alder Marsha Rummel, McGRath Principal Lance McGrath said that his company has accepted an offer to purchase 714-722 Williamson Street which includes the Morris Paper/Olds Seed building and the adjacent parking lot.

McGrath plans to turn the Olds building into 40-50 “Concrete Lofts” featuring 11-foot ceilings, exposed duct work and brick walls along with large windows; all the features which McGrath says will be unique to Madison. The first floor will likely feature commercial/retail use and they plan to add one or two levels to the building in pursuit of the loft concept.

In addition conversion of the current structure, McGrath proposes to build a five-story building running east-west abutting the Capital City Trail bike path on the north side of the current parking lot. This building will feature 80-90 units with parking at the ground floor and one level underground.

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Making the Marquette Neighborhood Better Than You Found It

If you like it here, this is how you can/should help: JOIN MNA

The MNA Board during a meeting in March 2014.

The MNA Board during a meeting in March 2014.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA) has always been a very active organization but the need for motivated members and leaders is a constant. Our neighborhood, located in the heart of the state capital, is host to many constituencies and their agendas can have stark impacts.

For example, the effects of the demolition of a long-standing industrial building have yet to be fully enumerated and the neighborhood is still trying to get answers from the state.

Additionally, the neighborhood is grappling with development and how to interpret the detailed neighborhood planning that was undertaken only a few years ago. Wounds are still fresh from the shooting of Tony Robinson and the response to a brutal sexual assault on the bike path is just beginning.

The MNA was also instrumental in thwarting an ill-conceived reconstruction of Jenifer Street that would have permanently changed the look and feel of this idyllic yet key transportation artery minor.

If you live here it’s likely that you love the festivals, which are the top four neighborhood events in the city. Our streets, homes and parks makes for destination living. But it took four decades of effort to make it this way and keep it so.

Your neighborhood needs to hear from you through words and engagement.

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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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Jenifer Reconstruction Prompts Second Public Meeting, More Questions

Jeni_ThumbA second public meeting is scheduled tomorrow (January 21) after the City of Madison officials faced numerous questions at a public meeting earlier this month regarding reconstruction of Jenifer Street which could dramatically remake a four block section of the historic thoroughfare.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA) submitted to the City and District 6 Alder Marsha Rummel additional formal questions regarding the reconstruction and it’s scope, the extent of planned tree removals, bus stop changes and construction equipment use.

The meeting is at 6 p.m. in Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center and will be attended by City representatives. The MNA questions can be seen below.


MNA Jenifer Reconstruction Questions

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

Related: Dramatic Changes Coming to Jenifer Street

Dramatic Changes Coming to Jenifer Street

Project to narrow roadway, eliminate bus stops, but could damage historic homes

The 800 block (foreground) thru the 1100 block will be entirely rebuilt beginning this spring.

The 800 block (foreground) through the 1100 block of Jenifer Street will be entirely rebuilt beginning this spring. Jenifer’s notable tree canopy could be significantly degraded by the project as well.

The City of Madison hopes to begin a large reconstruction of several blocks of Jenifer and adjoining streets this spring that will impact both residents and transients that use the street daily during and after the project is completed.

The sweeping project will narrow Jenifer from Spaight to Few Street, install bump-outs to facilitate easier pedestrian crossings, move two Madison Metro bus stops and eliminate six others. Sections of Paterson Street and Brearly will also be rebuilt and portions of Few Street will be resurfaced.

While neighborhood leaders are encouraged by the traffic calming aspects of the project, there are concerns about the changes to the bus stops, the loss of tree canopy and for owners of historic homes, possible damage from construction vibrations.

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MNA Membership Meeting Thursday

Board elections plus Good Neighbor Award, Yahara corridor planning on tap

The MNA Board during a meeting in March 2014.

The MNA Board during a meeting in March 2014.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA) holds its annual Membership Meeting Thursday October 15, at 6:30 p.m. with an open house at 6 p.m. The gathering, held in the Marquette Elementary School Cafeteria  accomplishes several goals for the year.

It allows members to pay annual dues, vote on new Board members, hear the yearly state of the neighborhood address from the  President and approve the yearly budget. The Board also presents the Good Neighbor Award to two individuals who have made positive impacts on the community.

The Marquette neighborhood runs from Blair street on the west end to Division Street and portion of Dunning on the east. Its northern border is East Washington Avenue and then winds its way toward the lake along First Street and then along Eastwood Drive.

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1018 Williamson Demolition Delayed

Landmarks gives owner a year to sell or tie property to Petinary expansion

1018 Williamson (right) is spared from demolition for now. Owner Mike Kohn who also owns the Petinary (left) wanted to convert the property to greenspace.

1018 Williamson (right) is spared from demolition for now. Owner Mike Kohn, who also owns the Petinary (left), wants to convert the property to greenspace.

When Petinary owner Mike Kohn purchased 1018 Williamson in 1992 it was in sorry shape and he planned to tear it down. A year later the City of Madison Landmarks Commission granted him permission to demolish the property but it never happened.

Now 22 years later, after restarting the process, Kohn will have to wait another year to try for a demolition permit. Landmarks has suspended his application for demolition until next fall, a move that one person close to the process says may be nearly unheard of in Madison.

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