Stand on the corner of State and Johnson and you’ll spy the Ovation 309 building, a new venture in downtown living that opened this past June. From the outside, the Ovation captures the hip, modern elegance of its neighbors, Overture Center, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and the Madison Public Library’s central outpost.
But there’s fun here, too, in the pops of color from apple green and maroon exteriors and glass-enclosed patios that evoke a fantasy beach resort. The Ovation both fits into its surroundings and amps them to the next level, bringing a sense of play to the bustling city center.
One benefit of the building’s location is its proximity to great restaurants—such as Estrellón, the tapas and wine bar adjacent to the Ovation lobby—as well as to downtown arts and nightlife.
“Every night of the week until 10 or 11 o’clock, it’s just vibrant,” says Tim Harrington, a retired rheumatologist who now owns his own healthcare consulting firm. Harrington was a lifelong west-sider but was attracted to downtown after downsizing from his home of 30 years. “I wanted to simplify in many different ways, to get rid of space that wasn’t needed. A big part of [the change] was the revitalization downtown.”
Harrington met other older residents while watching the sunset over Lake Mendota from the 13th floor’s incredible deck. He says the friends now share meals out or in each other’s apartments. In addition to the Ovation community, Harrington enjoys amenities like the gym and Dragonfly Hot Yoga, located on the second floor of the Ovation building, where he goes a couple of times a week to stay in shape.
“There’s just a pampered quality to living here,” adds resident and interior designer Caren King. “I think to myself, is this really real?”
Like Harrington, King chose the Ovation after downsizing following her daughter’s departure to college. King still lives with 15-year-old son Sam, and says he is also enjoying the freedom living downtown brings. “He can run out and see his buddy, and grab a slice of Ian’s pizza. Before, he couldn’t get anywhere. He was home unless I took him. Now he has all these self-help skills. Having him understand how to navigate the city is amazing.”
King fell in love with the Ovation’s floor-to-ceiling windows and townhouse-style apartment plan. She points out that while Sam has his space downstairs, her world—an intimate master bedroom and office that overlooks the Capitol—is private and separate one floor up. It’s quite a change from her former property in Middleton, which included 15 acres of land. “I get inspiration here. There’s just so much energy. I was asleep out in the woods,” she says.
Empty nesters are only one fraction of the building’s residents. Young professionals, international students and University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty live here, too. Assistant professor Sarada (who goes by just one name) moved into the Ovation after being hired by the university’s business school. “One thing I like about the building is there’s quite a bit of heterogeneity both to the backgrounds of people and what they do,” Sarada says. Sarada attended UW–Madison as an undergraduate and was familiar with downtown. In fact, her undergraduate apartment isn’t far from where the Ovation now stands.
Despite the former apartment’s proximity, there’s no doubt that the Ovation is light years away in quality and style.
“I like the Sky Room,” Sarada says, referring to the building’s luxurious community space. She also appreciates the concierge who helped deliver boxes when, right before moving in, she broke her leg.
It’s the exciting, fresh feel, many amenities and amazing views that draw people like Sarada to the Ovation 309—a new and vibrant element in an ever-changing city.
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