Downtown development project draws petition from nearby resident - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Downtown development project draws petition from nearby residents

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MADISON (WKOW)-- A group of condo owners in downtown Madison is joining forces to stop a new development being proposed right next door. City officials say it's one of the most controversial downtown developments they've seen in recent years.

The proposed site is at 149 East Wilson Street where a vacant three story state office building currently sits. Developers with McGrath Properties want to tear it down and build a 14-story apartment building. Neighbors who live on both sides of the lot are working together on a petition to prevent the project from happening.

"Right now 88% of the units in the Marina Condo Association are opposed to the building and about 33% of the units in the Union Transfer building have also signed the petition," Marina Condo Association board member Mary Waitrovich says.

The petition has drawn 77 signatures from condo owners in only three days. The signers all oppose the $20 million, 121-apartment unit complex that was first proposed in October of last year.

"The exact same plan for the most part that he put on the table in October that we objected to is the same plan he's continuing to push today. It's just too big of a building for this small of a foot print," Marina Condos resident Mike Peters says.

Condo owners are concerned because once the project is complete less than ten yards will separate that building and the adjacent marina condo complex. Owners say it will destroy beautiful views of Lake Monona, decrease their property value and will lead to traffic problems in the future.

Developers say they've made a few minor adjustments to please nearby residents, enough so that it caused them to lose six units on the building. Neighbors however, say the changes are so minor that they don't even make a difference.

"It's not ready to be approved. There's a lot of things that have to be resolved. That's why we've been opposing the development process at every step of the way," Waitrovich says.

At Tuesday night's city council meeting, members were set to vote on re-zoning the proposed site, but the petition forced city leaders to take a deeper look at the issue. The district's alder Michael Verveer says they need to carefully consider neighbors' opinions before moving forward.

"I certainly am overall pro-development. It just has to be done right and I'm not yet at a level today where I'm comfortable with the proposal as we have it," Verveer says.

During Tuesday night's meeting the council decided to wait until March 18th to vote on re-zoning the lot of land. The extra few weeks will give them time to consider the neighborhood's appeal of the project. City officials say this project is just one of many that is currently going on in the downtown area. Rarely do projects draw this much controversy from the community. City leaders say they typically see an average of one appealed conditional use zoning request each year.

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