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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 25, 2022

Future of O'Cayz subject of neighborhood forum

The futures of O'Cayz Corral, the venerable music venue that burned down Jan. 1, and the property on which it stood are still up in the air after a neighborhood meeting Tuesday at St. Patrick's Church, 404 E. Main St. 




Area residents met with Cathy Dethmers, owner of O'Cayz, 504 E. Wilson St., and a representative of the owner of the property to discuss the issues involved with the vacant lot. 




O'Cayz and the adjacent Comic Strip Lounge were destroyed by fire on New Year's Day. the fire was caused by discarded smoking materials in a trash can inside the Comic Strip Lounge, 502 E. Wilson St., Madison Fire Department officials said. 




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The future of the bar itself is promising in that Dethmers said she is looking into relocating. 




\We have looked into acquiring the property to rebuild,"" she said, ""but it doesn't look like it's in the cards."" 




For the time being, no plans are being made for the property, said Sandra Gagliano, who was representing Jeff Dodd, the property owner. Given the devastation the fire has caused for his family, Gagliano said, Dodd does not want to think about the lot and the only thing he might do is sell it. 




While the vacant lot sits unused, the group of people gathered in the tiny church basement, ranging from a handful of college students to people who have lived in the neighborhood for years, shared several ideas of what should be built on the lot. Ideas ranged from an exact replica of O'Cayz to an affordable grocery store to more affordable housing. 




About half the group does not want to see another bar go up in the neighborhood, saying too many already exist. 




While Bert Stitt of the Capitol Neighborhoods Association said he was not crazy about more bars in the area, he also stressed the struggle between having a nice, quiet neighborhood and the ""desire and need to have an exciting place to live."" 




Olivia Windle, a resident of the community, said it is possible to have a bar that does not have problems and that O'Cayz was one such bar. 




Most community members at the meeting expressed their wish to see a commercial building on the site, which could, theoretically, be another music venue in the first floor and more housing in the units above it. Such a building, neighborhood residents said, would have to adhere to strict standards regarding its height and architecture since the neighborhood is a historical area. 




While members disagreed with what to do with the lot, they all agreed with Scott Pace, a resident of the community, who said the important thing is to retain the ""character that was there, both architecturally and culturally.\

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