Future Of 100 Block Of State Street Project Remains Unclear

Developers are rethinking a redevelopment project slated for the 100 block of State Street in downtown Madison.

The project hit a number of snags in city committees, enough that the Block 100 Foundation project manager George Austin has pulled the plan from the agenda of a Landmarks Commission meeting on Monday, leaving the future of the city block up in the air.

Some city leaders said the current design for the project won?t pass.

“We were aware that they were considering holding back on the plan if they weren?t going to get the recommendation for the park space they wanted,? said Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

So far, three city committees have balked at demolishing a historic building at the corner of Mifflin and Fairchild streets to make way for green space opposite the Overture Center. That led Austin to ask for the project to be pulled from the Landmarks Commission next week. This will let the 100 Block Foundation consider whether the project should move forward, city officials said.

“There’s a project here that people will stand up and cheer for. There?s a project here that is so good that people would build statues to (Overture Center financiers) Jerry (Frautschi) and Pleasant (Rowland),” said Landmarks Commission Chairman Stu Levitan.

Levitan said he?s hopeful the project isn?t gone for good.

“There’s a lesson here, I believe, from the Rolling Stones: ?You can?t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need,'” Levitan said. “We need economic development on that block. We need to revitalize Fairchild Street. We need to revive and renovate State Street. There?s a way to do it, just not the way the developers have proposed to this point.”

So what happens if the developers don?t agree and walk away? The mayor said he believes another solution will present himself.

“Long term, I?m confident that something will be worked out for that block,” Soglin said.

Austin didn?t provide a timeline as to when the foundation will make a final decision on the project’s fate.

Both Levitan and the mayor said they believe the area could still be revitalized with individual building projects if this one is abandoned.