Alder Grant Foster
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Foster’s Updates
CGR Redevelopment Proposal Back at Plan Commission on 10/5
On September 14th, the Plan Commission voted 5-3 to deny the proposal to demolish three commercial buildings on Cottage Grove Road in order to construct two new buildings with a small commercial component and nearly 200 high-end apartment units. I had urged Plan Commission members to deny the proposal as I felt that the considerable loss of commercial space in this key section of the Cottage Grove Road corridor would be detrimental to the goals established in our Comprehensive Plan and in the Cottage Grove Activity Center Plan. These plans identify this area as a 'transitioning neighborhood activity center' and call for actions that will support the area transitioning into a 'vibrant mixed-use area over time'. You can find more background on the original proposal, including links to the Comprehensive and Cottage Grove Activity Center Plans here.
Reconsideration & Monday's meeting
On September 21st, Alder Rummel informed me that she would be asking for reconsideration of the earlier decision. Alder Rummel is a member of Plan Commission and was absent from the 9/14 meeting. Any member of a body that is absent when a decision is made (or any member that was on the prevailing side of a motion) can ask that a previous decision be reconsidered. This motion for reconsideration will be on the upcoming Plan Commission's agenda on Monday, October 5th. If a majority of Plan Commission members vote in favor of reconsideration, the proposal as presented on September 14th will be back in front of the commission for reconsideration.
In preparation for an affirmative vote to reconsider by the Plan Commission, the developer has worked on an amended plan that seeks to address some of the concerns with the original proposal. Specifically, the proposal for the western building was updated to include a new 2,245 S.F. co-working space and a 1,396 S.F. fitness space that would both be open to the public. The eastern building was updated to include 2,552 S.F. of commercial or work/live space and 8,290 S.F. of work/live space. The details of the amended plan can be found here.
As I shared in this earlier blog post, my primary concern with the original proposal was the loss of 32,000 S.F. of flexible and affordable commercial space in the heart of the Cottage Grove commercial district. While online shopping and COVID-19 have made it more difficult for many businesses to operate, I strongly believe in the vision described in our adopted comprehensive plan and believe that we need to hold fast to the primary strategy laid out in the Neighborhoods & Housing section that directs us to 'Create complete neighborhoods across the city where residents have access to transportation options and resources needed for daily living'. The Lake Edge & Eastmorland neighborhoods today don't fully meet that description and I support planning and land use decisions that continue to move us in that direction. Giving up on neighborhood-scale commercial access and amenities is inconsistent with both our land use and transportation strategies. There is no doubt in my mind that the Cottage Grove Road corridor can and should continue to evolve into a vibrant 'mixed-use neighborhood center featuring shops, services, employment, and a mix of housing types within and near single-use neighborhoods as identified in the Growth Priority Areas Map'.
Within that context, I was pleased to see an amended proposal from the developer that is more consistent with our adopted plans and our vision for creating complete neighborhoods. In a 'best case' scenario, I believe the proposed plan has the potential to help fulfill that promise in this activity center. In that 'best case' scenario, the two commercial anchors on each end of the proposal, the coworking and fitness spaces, and all of the work/live spaces would be filled with activity and would be a real asset to the current and future residents of these neighborhoods.
I remain concerned, on the other hand, that a 'worst case' scenario could instead include a coworking and fitness space that simply function as building amenities for residents of the new apartments and in which the work/live spaces function simply as 'live' spaces without offering any amenities or commercial activity to the adjacent neighborhoods. The amended plan needs to be carefully considered in this regard and any approval should include appropriate conditions that help deliver an outcome closer to 'best case' and further from 'worst case'.
How to provide input
I have confirmed that the public hearing will be reopened on this item if reconsideration is approved. For those interested in registering in support or opposition of these items or for registering to speak at the virtual meeting, you can do so here. That link also includes links to watch the meeting as well as to the full agenda. For those registering, item 7 is the motion to reconsider and items 8-10 are the proposal itself. Item 9 has the majority of the associated materials and would be the best one to select if you'd like to speak in favor or against the amended proposal itself. For those wishing to send comment via email, you can do so here.
As always, I encourage everyone to use your voice. Land use decisions are community decisions and the Plan Commission needs to hear from you in order to represent you. Please take the time to write in or register to speak if you have opinions on this proposal and the future development of the Cottage Grove Road corridor.
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