Neighbors, developers discuss Willy Street building project

Proposal $43 million project to be built on 700 block of Willy Street
Neighbors, developers discuss Willy Street building project

Madison’s Marquette neighborhood could have a new place to live, eat and shop on Williamson Street.

Baldwin Development Group proposed an estimated $43 million project called “722 Williamson” would be built on 700 block between Blount and South Livingston streets.

But neighbors in the area do not agree on the plan.

John Martens, who runs the Madison Candy Company Building, said he walked away from development proposals for the space next to his building several times before, but this one is different.

“When I saw what efforts they were making to make it engage the neighborhood and accommodate my own needs I felt I’m ready to cooperate,” said Martens.

Martens negotiated with the developer to give up parking spaces for room in the proposed parking lot.

722 Williamson would add 220 apartments, about 6,000 square feet of commercial space and 368 parking stalls.

The front portion off Williamson Street would be a four-story building with a rooftop garden, and the back section adjacent to the Capitol Bike Path would be 10 stories.

Neighbors say the proposed size of the development challenge the area’s design standards of buildings being 7 floors high or 85 feet tall.

“I’m not convinced the scale of this building from Williamson Street is not going to be noticed or felt,” said resident Steve Gallo at a neighborhood Preservation and Development meeting Wednesday morning.

Gallo wasn’t alone in his view.

Neighbors, developers discuss Willy Street building project

During the same meeting, neighbor Anne Walker said she was concerned about the building’s impact on the bike path and rooftop gardening.

Other residents argued the development would feed into the traffic issues; while some said they were not against development but that it should follow current standards.

Alder Marsha Rummel said she is not against the proposal but wants to see more information.

“I want to know what it would really look like if you fit the plan. Until you show me what you could do if it fits the plan, I don’t really know that what you think is the best way, is the best way,” said Rumel.

A newly formed subcommittee was assembled at Wednesday’s meeting.
Ten residents make up the subcommittee that will work with developers to come up with solutions to neighborhood concerns.

When asked about reconsidering the 10-story aspect of the project, Jim Bower, managing partner with Baldwin Development Group, said there is no definitive answer, but the adjustment could force them to cut parking spaces and request more financial assistance from the city.