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Peace Park project redesigned to cut costs

The revised design for the proposed visitors’ center in Madison’s Lisa Link Peace Park will cut up to $60,000 from the project’s cost. The reconfigured plans will go before the city’s Urban Design Commission on Wednesday. Rendering submitted by City of Madison

The revised design for the proposed visitors’ center in Madison’s Lisa Link Peace Park will cut up to $60,000 from the project’s cost. The reconfigured plans will go before the city’s Urban Design Commission on Wednesday. Rendering submitted by City of Madison

Paul Snyder
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Budget overruns have prompted a redesign of the proposed visitors’ center in Madison’s Lisa Link Peace Park.

Alderman Mike Verveer said Madison-based Ken Saiki Design Inc. has revised its plans for the estimated $1 million project to revitalize the one-third acre park after cost projections put the project $100,000 over budget.

The reconfigured plans will go before the city’s Urban Design Commission on Wednesday. The biggest change is the removal of a conelike window structure atop the building that would have let natural light into the building and given the building the appearance of being two stories.

State Street’s development guidelines call for two-story buildings, but commission member Todd Barnett said the commission allowed the one-story building because of its relatively small size and vaulted appearance.

Verveer said he has heard from neighboring business owners and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, who said they did not like the cone. The city’s Board of Park Commissioners on Wednesday unanimously approved the new design.

“But we still have our fingers crossed, because the city’s planning staff and the Urban Design Commission were both concerned about the two-story appearance,” Verveer said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Removing the cone structure and other changes will cut up to $60,000 from the project’s cost, Verveer said.

The remaining $40,000 overrun does not necessarily need to trimmed, he said, because Cieslewicz’s proposed 2010 capital budget includes an $80,000 contingency amount for cost overruns associated with the project.

The city’s 2009 capital budget included $1 million to revitalize the park, with $650,000 slated generated through a tax-incremental finance district and Downtown Madison Inc.’s commitment to raise $350,000.

“We’re still hoping to let the project out for bids in November and take advantage of a competitive bidding atmosphere,” Verveer said. “We want to break ground in January and have this done by July 2010.”

Because the designs must go back to the Urban Design Commission, the Plan Commission’s review of the project, originally scheduled for Monday, has been pushed back to Oct. 5.

If the Urban Design Commission rejects the new plans, further redesign will be necessary. Barnett said the commission did not request the designers include the cone structure, but members were excited by the prospect of it taking advantage of natural light and potentially holding solar panels in the future.

“I’ll be open-minded,” Barnett said of the altered designs. “But I’m not going to say something one way or the other until I see the plans. The project should still have mass and should not be a short building.”

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