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Thursday, April 18, 2024
Madison’s Common Council approved a rezoning permit to allow construction of a nine story hotel on State Street.

Madison’s Common Council approved a rezoning permit to allow construction of a nine story hotel on State Street.

City council paves way for State Street hotel after approving rezoning permit

Madison’s city council approved plans for a nine-story hotel on State Street, acting against the recommendation of city staff. They also discussed overriding a vetoed liquor license for Koi Sushi and the funding of a Hmong community mental health center.

Last Monday, city staff advised Madison’s Plan Commission to deny a permit allowing the property to be rezoned so the project does not exceed downtown height limits. The Plan Commission ultimately approved the permit.

Supporters of the project argued that replacing the vacant buildings in the area with a new hotel would help reduce crime on State Street as well as provide a boost to nearby retail stores. A representative from the hotel’s operator estimated it would serve 35,000 guests a year.

Alder Mike Verveer, who represents District 4 where the hotel would be located, said the recommendation from city staff is not something he takes lightly, but the benefits of the project were too great for him to overlook.

“We cannot wait for something to happen at the top of State Street,” he said. “We need to act today.”

Alder Ledell Zellers, District 2, agreed with city staff that the hotel did not meet rezoning requirements. Alder Rebecca Kemble, District 18, expressed doubts about the developer’s plans for parking.

The permit was ultimately granted with only Zellers and Alder Marsha Rummel, District 6, voting in opposition.

The council also passed an ordinance granting $40,000 in emergency funding to the Kajsiab House, a mental health program serving Madison’s Hmong community. The money would help fund the Kajsiab House through the end of the year.

Several dozen members of the community came to the meeting to show their support for the Kajsiab House, which was slated to close Friday after its operator, Journey Mental Health Center, pulled out in August due to a lack of funds.

The council heard emotional testimony from clients of the Kajsiab House, many of whom are refugees fleeing violence in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. They mentioned how members of the Hmong community suffer from PTSD and depression from their experiences during wartime. As a result, they suffer from higher rates of suicide than the general population.

Speakers at the council meeting expressed worry that, without the Kajsiab House, they or their family members would have no place to go. Some were concerned about suicidal comments made by clients.

The council also voted to override Soglin’s veto of a liquor license for State Street restaurant Koi Sushi.

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Koi Sushi’s proprietor gave a statement promising not to over-serve guests or let anyone abuse alcohol. The council needed 14 votes to override the veto: The result was 17-0.

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