Alder Brian Benford
Home Address:2722 Center Ave
- Phone: (608) 571-2406
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210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Benford’s Updates
Sometimes Changes Are Hard!
Dear Friends and Neighbors
Right after I was first elected, I had heard that Zion Lutheran had basically closed their doors and were going to merge with another church in the Schenk neighborhood. Over the last two years, I had noticed that the church appeared to be often empty, and just chalked it up to Covid-19. It appears that many churches throughout the U.S. and here locally, have had to rethink their missions as worshipers have pivoted to virtual services during this pandemic. For decades, I have traveled past this uniquely shaped building, yet I have only been inside a couple of times.
Initially, the thought of the church leaving and the site sitting empty or abandoned for any length of time made me somewhat sad. I liked having this funky shaped building in the hood. Back last April, I had a brief meeting with city planning staff who let me know that Joe and Tyler Krupp had interest in working with the church to redevelop the site (final purchase price contingent on this). In this conversation, I was told that there would have to be a zoning change to happen if this site was going to allow for more density. I am simplifying matters here, but ultimately it came down to my support as the alder for city planning staff to consider amending the neighborhood plan to allow for a significant change from the church or the single family homes adjacent to the church.
In my past service as an alder, I had never experienced this type of issue before. For that matter, nobody had! Knowing that as an alder, my support, or opposition to any development project plays an important role. In this instance, I knew that I could allow the neighborhood to fully weigh in and offer their input around any new development on this site because nothing could happen at this time unless I was willing to support a zoning change. With the real demand for new housing stock within the city, I believe that it was just a matter of time before the site would be develop. And perhaps, not with the ability to offer this level of neighborhood involvement.
With his amazing generosity and knowledge, Brad Hinkfuss, was able to bring a core group of concern neighbors together to dialog with the developers, city staff and myself to ensure that we could get the best possible outcome with whatever happened on the site. These conversations have been going on since last May. Throughout the process, I have been inspired by the "core" group of neighbors that have met with Threshold (the developers/Krupp) repeatedly to get us to where we are at now. For me, and my biases, I have always felt fortunate that unlike other experiences as an alder, we could assure that this would not be forced down our throats because of the zoning considerations.
While I believe that some of the earlier concepts that called for a larger, taller building were completely out of scale for the neighborhood, I knew that we were not ever going to have a couple single family lots on the site or a post office that was suggested by more than a few. Over these months, internally I had great expectations that whatever might be built on the site would be extraordinary. At the end, we came to two options.
Option A, was a larger building but Passive in design and would have been the first Passive building of this type in Madison. On a personal level, this really excited me as this building could have been a model for other developments. The "core" group felt that Option A was too big and then began considering Option B that was smaller in scale and had more pronounce setbacks giving the appearance that the building was 2-stories for the sidewalks around it.
At the last "core" group meeting, the group essentially split on their support of Option B which leads me to this note. As the current alder, I am going to lend my support to Option B. I say this knowing that throughout the next processes, the site will no longer be in my district and Alder Foster will ultimately be involved with future steps around this site. For those of you that have been deeply involved in this issue, I want to thank you all. I want to thank Brad H. for his expertise and willingness to ensure that the end product captured neighborhood input. It is my opinion that Option B will be an amazing addition to our neighborhood. https://thresholddevelopmentgroup.com/linden-st-zion-site
There will be additional opportunities to weigh-in on this proposed concept as it works its way through city processes. You will be notified of these steps as they come up and I would encourage you to add your voice in what you want to see on the Zion site.
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