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For the greater good

Developers did something seemingly impossible before completing the Arbor Gate project: They convinced leaders from three Madison-area municipalities to set personal interests aside and agree on something.

Owners from Mortenson Investment Group LLC, Madison, and Westwind Associates LLC, Madison, brought together officials from a trio of municipalities — Fitchburg, the town of Madison and the city of Madison — to make the mixed-use office building and parking structure development possible.

The 6-acre site the building sits on is all in the city of Madison now, but initially was equally portioned between the three municipalities.

Developers persuaded elected officials to agree on annexation terms by pointing out that the Arbor Gate project had the potential to add jobs and reduce crime in Madison’s somewhat blighted Todd Drive area.

“These communities fought for 30 years and couldn’t resolve boundary issues,” said Brad Hutter, president of MIG. “We finally sat down with the leaders in those municipalities and hammered out an agreeable understanding that the future of south Madison was in their mutual best interests.”

Municipal leaders weren’t the only ones who set personal interests aside for the greater good of the area.

Owners of existing businesses, including Allen Kitchen and Bath Inc. and a Verlo Mattress Factory Stores branch, agreed to relocate to new facilities in aredevelopment district later designed by MIG.

Neighborhood residents also set personal interests aside.

Hutter said residents recognized the increased traffic would bring in additional retail.

“By giving up a little,” he said, “all together everyone gained a lot.”

Along with convincing municipal leaders, area shop owners and neighborhood residents to agree, developers also secured several million dollars in public money for the reconstruction of a road exchange to provide access to a front street from the Beltline.

“It took the better part of two years,” said Sean Baxter, president of Westwind Associates, “to bring together legal documents for the six parcels andmeetings with business owners and the neighborhood association to create something with the highest and bestuse of density.”

Architect Douglas Hursh, director of design at Madison’s Potter Lawson Inc., said the building’s proximity to the Beltline created some design challenges. Ultimately high-performance laminated glass was used to reduce traffic noise from the highway, he said.

“We had an acoustic study done,” Hursh said, “to determine the typeof glazing required to reduce thehighway sound.”

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