Marling Homeworks Madison Wisconsin University

East Washington Avenue could be the site of another large redevelopment project in the coming months.

Developers are planning to submit a proposal to the city next month for a four-story, mixed-use building on the Marling Lumber Company site at 1801 E. Washington Ave.

M-M Properties, Inc. and Campbell Capital Group, LLC notified District 6 Ald. Marsha Rummel and Marquette Neighborhood Association president Lynn Lee of the plans in a letter dated Aug. 14.

Their plans are to demolish the existing industrial buildings to construct 240 multi-family residential units, retail and office space and a 340-space parking garage.

Lee said developers asked him to set up neighborhood meetings on the proposal and to get input from area residents.

"The plan looks very interesting," Lee said. "It's an ideal place to be redeveloped."

Marling Lumber is near the site of the proposed Public Market, part of the Capitol East corridor that has experienced a boom in development in the last few years. In recent months, East Washington has seen the long-shuttered Fyfe's Corner Bistro transformed into a new Pasqual's and construction of a new Festival Foods grocery store set to open in December, part of a mixed-use development on the former Don Miller automobile property in the 800 block. Also, Breese Stevens Field has undergone a splashy renovation and has bumped up the number and type of events it is hosting there, including an October concert from the Avett Brothers.

Neighborhood residents haven't had much time to weigh in on the new development yet, Lee said, but some have raised concerns with traffic being directed onto East Main Street.

"I think that's a pretty legitimate concern of how that will work," Lee said. "But from what little we've seen, (the mixed-use proposal) looks good, it looks interesting."

Marling Lumber and HomeWorks has moved some operations to 613 Atlas Ave., but the site on East Washington is still in use.

The 3.81-acre plot of land at 1801 E. Washington Ave. where Marling Lumber Company has been located since 1920 is assessed at $1.91 million, with existing buildings adding $381,000 to the value.

Also in the Cap East corridor, the first phase of the long-awaited Union Corners project in the 2400 and 2500 blocks of East Washington could begin this year.

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The plan for a 230-apartment mixed-use development on East Washington Avenue goes before Madison's Landmarks Committee on Monday, and a joint committee of two neighborhood associations has criticized the developer's work in the process.

The Marquette and Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara neighborhood associations said in a letter to District 6 Ald. Marsha Rummel that area residents haven't been brought enough into Campbell Capital Group's work to redevelop the Marling Lumber site at 1801 E. Washington Ave., near the Yahara River.

"There has been too little time and too little effort put into receiving community feedback so far," read the letter, signed by Jesse Pycha-Holst of the Marquette board and SASY chair Brad Hinkfuss.

The combined group listed eight major concerns with the proposal and requested that the city delay the rezoning of the 3.876-acre site from industrial to traditional employment until the plan has received neighborhood and city support.

Developer Michael J. Campbell wrote in response that neighborhood feedback should be incorporated alongside discussions with city staff and the bodies that need to approve the project.

The Landmarks Commission is scheduled to discuss the proposal at its meeting Monday evening. The group gets an advisory review because the project site is next to the Yahara River Parkway, which is a Madison landmark site.

Plans for the development show two buildings ranging from two to four stories and about 20,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space. The development team identified a glass tower at the corner where East Washington Avenue overlooks the river as one of the signature features.

In a report to the Landmarks Commission, city preservation planner Amy Scanlon wrote that the proposal meets the requirement not to be "so large or visually intrusive as to adversely affect the historic character and integrity of the adjacent landmark."

But her recommendation added three design suggestions to improve the building's interface with the Yahara. They include adding planting areas, simplifying the architectural expression and moving to a less distracting color for balcony frame elements.

In its Nov. 23 application to the Landmarks Commission, the development team highlighted the potential to replace an industrial connection to the Yahara with a residential and commercial one.

"The project will harmonize and improve the relationship of the two sites by expanding the amount of open space on the west side of the project site and installing landscaping that is sensitive to and complements the Yahara River Parkway," Campbell wrote.

The joint neighborhood committee, meanwhile, listed among its concerns that plans for the building didn't deliver what the development proposal advertised as a public amenity with its connection to the parkway.

"It provides an exclusive-looking courtyard bounded mostly by fence and buildings with little to define what (is) public and what is private," the group wrote in the letter to Rummel.

The group's other concerns included interfaces with East Washington Avenue and with East Main Street, where it wanted to see more individual entries.

In his response addressed to Rummel and Natalie Erdman, the city's director of planning and community and economic development, Campbell said he anticipated getting additional feedback to revised plans at a Tuesday meeting with the joint committee.

The neighborhood group also was critical of the lack of an affordable-housing component in the proposal, but Campbell said projects like his increase the tax base to help fund the city's affordable housing fund.

"Decisions regarding affordable housing need to be made in the context of considering the market as a whole and by those who will be responsible to build, pay for and operate a particular project," Campbell wrote.

The project is tentatively scheduled to be considered by the Urban Design Commission on Jan. 13, and requests for rezoning, demolition and conditional use could be heard by the Plan Commission on Jan. 25.

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