State Street hotel project gets thumbs down from city staff, Madison Plan Commission to consider $43 million project Monday

September 17, 2018

A development team is pursuing a zoning change to construct a nine-story, 130-room hotel on the 100 block of State Street. The top image looks up State Street toward the Capitol from the intersection of West Dayton and North Fairchild streets, while the below image is a rendering of the hotel would fit into the block.

A $43 million State Street hotel proposal has failed to win approval from city staff, throwing the project’s fate into question as it comes before the Madison Plan Commission Monday.

The Planning Division has recommended denial of plans for the nine-story boutique hotel proposed for 118-126 State St., which would exceed the six-floor limit outlined in the city’s Comprehensive Plan and a Downtown plan adopted in 2012.

“While staff acknowledges that the design of the proposed hotel has architectural merit, staff believes that the proposed scale and mass of the building does not comport to the existing or intended character of the flatiron block,” the staff report states.

According to the report, planning staff believe the project could be achieved with a six-story building.

Eric Nordeen, the project’s lead developer, could not be reached for comment Sunday.

His company, Ascendant Holdings, has proposed tearing down all or part of four buildings that range from two to six stories to make way for the 133-room hotel on the triangular block just off Capitol Square.

According to Ascendant, the building needs to be nine stories for the hotel to be economically viable with high-quality construction materials.

If approved, construction would begin in the spring and last until the fall of 2020. The hotel would be operated by Provenance Hotels of Portland, Oregon, and feature an art collection, ground-floor restaurant and rooftop lounge. Ascendant says it would support 70 full-time positions as well as 95 jobs during construction.

The upper levels would be set back to maintain the four-story height limit on State Street. The ninth floor would also be smaller to make it less visible from the street below. But the 107-foot building would exceed the 88-foot limit allowed on most of the site and surrounding block.

The developers shaved 11 feet off their original plans and modified parts of the design in response to concerns from neighbors and city officials. They note that other nearby buildings are significantly taller, including the Madison Concourse Hotel, which sits directly across Carroll Street.

They also point out that the State Street face of the hotel would actually be shorter than the six-story former YWCA building it would replace.

The planning staff say the current design is “fundamentally inconsistent” with the existing and intended character of the block.

However, they suggest the project could be approved with the addition of windows on upper floors that would be visible from Capitol Square and the Overture Center for the Arts, and if the Plan Commission finds it does not “unduly impact surrounding streets and properties.”

The project received preliminary approval from the city’s Landmarks and Urban Design commissions.

The Plan Commission is scheduled to consider the proposal Monday.

Staff advise if the commission decides the standards have been met that final approval be subject to recommendations from multiple departments and advisory committees as well as input from the public.

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