West Washington Avenue development sees updates to plan

The neighborhood committee on the possible develop on the corner of West Washington Avenue and North Broom Street held a public Forum Monday evening.

Image By: Morgan Winston

The plan for a new apartment building on the northwest corner of West Washington Avenue and Broom Street has evolved and sparked community critique.

The neighborhood committee hosted a second public meeting Monday to discuss updates to the proposal. Nearly 40 community members and developers debated the changes made by city planning staff.

Urban Assets of Madison representative Melissa Huggins highlighted key features of the project, such as its access to public transportation, its function as a gateway to the downtown area and its adherence to the rising demand for housing in Madison.

“There are a lot of ways in which this is a sustainable building,” Huggins said. “The most important of which is that it’s creating density, and maximizing the use of the land.”

Doug Pahl, one of the project’s architects, said the building will include 86 units—with most being single-bedroom studios—and 35 parking spaces. Pahl said the design of an outdoor porch at the entrance to the apartment will help to support residential life.

“The goal is to enhance the neighborhood feel of this block of West Washington Avenue,” Pahl said.

Huggins emphasized the plan’s adherence to the city’s Downtown Plan, but some community members raised concerns that the building’s six stories will be excessive, and possibly pave the way for the development of similar tall buildings in the future.

Other neighborhood members worried that the property would contribute to the lack of affordable housing for students or individuals living in poverty.

Developers said the monthly rent for a studio unit will be around $1,100, while units with two or three bedrooms will likely be in the $600-$700 range.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, noted the city cannot legally set any requirements regarding rent prices.

Another hot issue was the plan’s lack of parking space. Developers emphasized that within their target demographic of students and young professionals, many choose to take the bus or walk rather than use a car.

“This is a very transit-rich site,” Huggins said. “It’s also obviously within walking distance to the university, to downtown, to our major employment centers. That’s an important piece of the picture.”

The proposal still must go through the city land use approval process and face various city commissions before it goes to the Common Council June 7.

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