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Friday, June 09, 2023

The Madison Plan Commission rejected the latest proposal for the construction of the Hub II apartments on Langdon Street as students also voiced their disapproval for the apartment complex. 

UW Panhellenic Association joins collective fight against proposed Hub II apartments

As plans for the proposed Hub II apartments on Langdon Street halted last week, students joined Madison community members to express their concerns in anticipation of the apartment complex’s construction. 

Representatives from the UW-Madison Panhellenic Association met and discussed the proposal to build a seven-story, 124-unit edifice — called “The Langdon” — to occupy the empty lot at 126 Langdon St., which lies in a historical neighborhood and sits in between UW-Madison fraternity and sorority houses. 

The Madison Plan Commission voted last week against the height of the structure, putting plans for the apartment edifice in limbo and doubts if the project will even continue, according to Ald. Sally Rohrer, District 8.

Rohrer led deliberations and listened to student input, receiving recommendations as to what the vacant space should hold. 

Rohrer started reaching out to students after she noticed a lack of student representation when a steering committee comprised of residents — primarily from the Mansion Hill neighborhood — complained about the potential impact of the apartment building on the community to the Urban Design Commission. 

“There were no students involved,” Rohrer said. “Both of the steering committee meetings were over winter break or during exam week. It was unjust because the people who are going to be living in [the neighborhood] weren’t involved in the process at all.”

A major concern the steering committee noted to the design commission regarded a proposed rooftop pool and hot tub deck, which the committee ultimately requested to be removed as a conditional use standard, according to the Cap Times.

Core Spaces — the developers of the Hub II apartments — said they would collaborate with the steering committee to accommodate their concerns. 

“As always, we are open to listening to the steering committee’s suggestions,” Rodney King, a member of the development team at Core Spaces, told the Cap Times. “We have modified our design based on some of their feedback and will continue to analyze any reasonable suggestion.”

At the same time, the growing voices of UW-Madison students reflect similar interests to those of older residents. 

Rohrer said traffic congestion — particularly during August when students return to campus — and fears the new building would disrupt the charm of the historical three-story buildings that line Langdon Street, along with the overall character of the neighborhood, The Panhellenic Association shared a similar sentiment. 

“I think for people who are really involved in [the Langdon] community, they thought [of the] change to their neighborhood as something that, even when they are alumni coming back to these places, would look different and have a different feel to it,” Rohrer said. 

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More student-specific worries, according to Rohrer, included environmental concerns related to trash and the lot’s proximity to Lake Mendota, the impact of construction during the summer — and most notably affordable housing. 

“On this campus in general, there’s this concern that we keep building luxury, not-affordable housing options for students,” Rohrer said. “That’s really a student issue and a reason why students need to be involved in this process as well.” 

Students also suggested at the meeting the space could be used to construct a new house for an incoming sorority chapter or the lot could be turned into a park, according to Rohrer. 

While Rohrer and UW-Madison students cannot completely oppose the building due to zoning rights owned by Core Spaces, they could still offer their advice about the proposed plan. 

The Panhellenic Association drafted a letter outlining recommendations for the building, accompanied by a petition to the plan commission, which approves building projects within the city.  

Still, in order to ensure the continued participation of Langdon residents in neighborhood affairs, Rohrer said she plans to revitalize the State-Langdon Neighborhood Association, which deteriorated about 10 years ago. 

With the help of Ald. Patrick Heck, District 2, incoming District 8 Ald. Max Prestigiacomo and members of Associated Students of Madison — who will oversee the board and maintain the health of the association — the student-dominated population of Langdon Street will have greater control over their neighborhood affairs.  

“[Langdon Street residents] haven’t had any representation and the surrounding neighborhoods have really made a lot of decisions on behalf of the area,” Rohrer said. “We’re looking at ways to make [the neighborhood association] more sustainable, even when students are really transient.” 

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