Urban Design Commission attempts to balance progress and preservation

Project Director Andrew Inman laid out the updated plans for a 10-story hotel on East Washington Avenue, highlighting changes to parking and the view from the sidewalk.

Image By: Dana Kampa

The issue of protecting established and historic areas such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lamp House conflicted with the need for development in an Urban Design Commission meeting Wednesday.

Issues of height, limited parking and pedestrian experience were committee discussion topics for the hotel and housing projects considered, with residents more often opposing large development projects than supporting them.

To accommodate previous concerns, the designers of a 10-story hotel on East Washington Avenue pushed back the parking lot, moved the building farther from the street and altered the overall design aesthetics. However, the height of the hotel remains under criticism.

“The overwhelming goal for the project is to create unique areas that are overwhelmingly a positive experience, not just for the guests, but for the public,” Josh Wilcox, Gary Brink & Associates vice president and senior project manager, said.

Neighbors Bill Gates and Nan Fey agreed with commissioners, saying the building is too tall.

“No matter how beautiful this building has become, it doesn’t belong on this site,” Fey said.

Ald. Ledell Zellers, District 2, also urged consideration of the project as a whole.

UDC design professional Melissa Huggins said that, while evaluating exceptional design is subjective, she appreciates the designers’ efforts.

“The fact is, this is a city, and we need to have big, tall buildings,” Huggins said. “This is the kind of building I want to see in my city.”

UDC gave final approval for the project in a 5-2 vote.

The commission also approved a building addition to the Walmart by Highway 30, two apartments on Jupiter Drive and Hercules Trail and facade improvements to The Park Hotel on South Carroll Street.

UDC also heard informational presentations for a new Ho-Chunk Nation office and two apartment buildings.

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