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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Reconsider Edgewater vote

If the economic recession of the past year has taught anything to policy makers, it is that any recovery is likely to be slow and halting. One might think the top priority of local and state officials would be job creation in such an anemic environment, with families going hungry statewide because one or both parents are out of work.

Unfortunately, one committee in Madison government seems to have forgotten about the stark financial reality thousands of residents are facing every day, with the city Landmarks Commission recently creating a giant obstacle to the proposed renovation of the Edgewater Hotel.

The commission voted 5-2 Monday to deny the developer of the renovation, Hammes Company, a Certificate of Appropriateness based on the proposed eight story tower for the hotel they felt did not fit visually with the surrounding buildings. The criteria is based on city ordinance 33.19(10)(e) that ""any new structure shall be visually compatible with the buildings and environment with which it is visually related"" when dealing with the historic Mansion Hill Neighborhood that hosts the Edgewater.

Will the proposed renovations to the Edgewater make it the largest building in the area? Yes. But that means little when developers and city officials project the new building to bring in over 1,000 construction jobs and potentially $1 million in tax revenue every year.

During the meeting, some commission members said that approving the proposal would make it easier for similar large construction projects to gain approval in the future when they come before the committee, hurting the effectiveness of the ordinance. If the ordinance is so unclear or misguided that it puts a stop to significant development such as this, along with sending a clear signal to future developers that city processes are unworkable, it needs to be revised.

The proposal is not for a parking lot and it is not even tearing down a historic building, it is for a business that could benefit Madison for years to come. Also considering that Hammes has repeatedly revised the proposal, lowering the tower height and scaling back the scope of the plan, for it to die now it would be an enormous blow to Madison's image as open to economic growth. The renovations would even restore much of the original 1940's hotel and add a public terrace with access to the waterfront, both complying with the stipulation that the construction be ""visually compatible.""

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We call on the Common Council to take up the appeal the developer has asked for and overrule the Landmarks Commission's mind-bogglingly small-minded decision. 

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