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Hammes revises Edgewater Hotel plans

By Paul Snyder

Madison planners are skeptical that Hammes Co. has made enough changes to its Edgewater Hotel design to earn approval for the redevelopment project.

“If they showed us drawings that made people go, ‘Wow,’ that would go a long way,” said Bruce Woods, chairman of the city’s Urban Design Commission. “I think we need to see they’re making a good-faith effort to make some changes.

“And if they’re really serious about making it a better building, I think they’ll need more time than the Feb. 23 Common Council deadline.”

The Urban Design Commission on Wednesday will review the Brookfield developer’s revised plans for the estimated $93 million Edgewater redevelopment.

The commission reviewed the project this week, but Woods said commission members questioned the developer’s plans for an ice rink on the public plaza and the lack of diversity in the building’s façade.

Hammes’ latest plans, given to the city Wednesday night, call for changes to the façade that would make the hotel addition more in sync with the section built in the 1940s. The new plans also increase public space along the waterfront but do not include an ice rink.

Hammes representatives did not return calls for comment Thursday.

Those changes can help, Woods said, but the size of the project still could be a problem.

“I know there are some people that would like to see a couple floors come off,” he said.

The building elevations in the latest design are similar to those the company introduced when it scaled back its initial proposal in fall.

Alderwoman Bridget Maniaci, who represents the Edgewater district, said she does not expect Hammes to reduce the size of the Edgewater tower. The company already reduced the size from 11 stories to eight.

“There are going to be no floors coming off,” she said. “They’ve already taken off as many as they can.”

If that’s the case, Hammes might have more work to do to win the Urban Design Commission’s support, said Todd Barnett, commission vice chairman.

“It’s a handsome building, I don’t dispute that,” he said. “But it should be noble and majestic if it’s sitting out there on its own.”

Woods said that’s the price developers must pay if the building they propose is larger than city guidelines allow.

If Hammes receives initial approval from the Urban Design Commission on Wednesday, the developer can take its plans to the Plan Commission on Feb. 8.

Hammes still will need final approval from the Urban Design Commission before the Feb. 23 Common Council meeting.

If the design commission does not approve the project by Feb. 23, Maniaci said, the Common Council can wait.

“Any number of items still could come along to change it,” she said of the project design. “I’d like to see it happen at the Feb. 23 meeting, but I know Hammes is holding off on securing financing until all approvals are in place.”

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