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Parking concerns impact neighbors, restaurant on Williamson Street

Parking concerns impact neighbors,...

Madison, Wisc - A new development on Madison's east side is raising concerns for neighbors.

Parking continues to be an issue for a neighboring business and residents in the area who are concerned with the need for additional spots,

Fuego executive director Oscar Villarreal and his partner Jordan's dream to open the restaurant Fuego on Williamson Street started as a way to heal from the death of Oscar's two sons. His sons died within a year of each other.

"At the end of the day this is what we are trying to do as a family to overcome some tragedy that we lost," Villarreal said.

Now Villarreal said a conflict between two landlords is turning their dream into a nightmare.

"It is really unfair because we are kind of a pawn in the middle of this whole game and can't have our say so. Our whole positive reason for doing this is now more or less a struggle between two other people to figure out what they want to do," Villarreal said.

The property is a mix of apartment buildings and a restaurant. This week, Madison's planning commission denied a request by the restaurant to increase their approved 120 capacity by more than 50 people after concerns raised by neighbors.

"It can't be a whole new process or increase by a third. If we don’t have a process to protect the integrity of our neighborhood we really loose something," said Lynn Lee, president of the Marquette Neighborhood Association.

The Marquette Neighborhood Association unanimously approved the original proposal. Lee said they support the restaurant but are concerned with how their plans will impact parking.

"It's the exact type of business we want to have on Willy -- family run, small, but now they are concerned that there will be too many cars," he said.

Concerns started last year over road access to neighboring Cha Cha's Hair Salon. The owners of the development, were involved in a dispute with a business next door and two parking lots owned by Kris Warren, Donde LLC.

"We came to an agreement that they would give us access to this parking because they were changing the access from Williamson Street to Patterson Street. As soon as they got their approvals from the city, we got a call that they were going to back out of the deal," Warren said.

Now Warren said the developer of Fuego's building, Chuck Chvala, is asking to access two parking lots he owns for the restaurant, leaving him no parking for his own tenants.

"We have not seen a proposal that is anything close to what would not hurt our business," he said.

Louis Fortis, a joint partner of the development, said he is committed to working with the neighborhood, city and restaurant to come to a solution.

"Everybody I've spoken to has been happy with the building -- have not heard one complaint about the building regarding the look," he said. "This is an issue between two private property owners that should be discussed between them."

Fortis said he does not think Fuego should be used as a bargaining tool, but is confident that they will come to a solution. He declined to talk specifics of the parking negotiations.

Without a designated parking lot, street parking is the only option for the restaurant. Villarreal hopes the two landlords will work toward an agreement, and until then, he is holding on to hope

"It's always going to be about the boys. Those tragic losses is what it is, and why we are so strong and not giving up," Villarreal said.

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