Commission delays call on Essen Haus

After receiving a city staff report that the Essen Haus block proposal doesn’t meet Madison landmark standards, the Madison Landmarks Commission has postponed a decision on revised plans for the project.

The proposal, by Madison's McGrath Property Group, is for a mixed-use building that would bring 153 apartments and 11,000 square feet of commercial space to a site on the corner of East Wilson and South Blair streets, part of which falls within a local historic district.

According to a report in The Capital Times, residents of several historic districts have expressed concern about the project and the precedent its approval would set.

The so-called “East End” development proposal would redevelop the Essen Haus German restaurant and surrounding properties in the First Settlement Historic District in downtown Madison. However, the city staff report found the development plan does not meet the city’s landmark standards, including compatibility with adjacent building sizes and lot sizes.

McGrath disputes that characterization, saying the project “takes the cues and qualities of the buildings found within 200 feet of the site.”