Raising the roofs

Ever-changing skyline answers a mix of demands.

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Dane County’s building boom continues, with students and young professionals buying into the high-rise luxury apartment dream, baby boomers becoming part of an energetic and very walkable urban center, and businesses like Fiskars building for future growth with a new facility in Middleton.

Back on the isthmus, The Galaxie — developer Otto Gebhardt’s follow up to the Constellation — is nearly open for business along the city’s development-rich East Washington Avenue corridor. The Hub, State Street’s 12-story luxurious student housing complex, is complete, while its twin, Hub II, is in the works.

Renovations should soon be completed at the Best Western Inn On The Park (to be renamed), and with the Madison Edgewater hotel attracting attention on the other side of the Capitol Square, area residents may be compelled to schedule more “staycations” on their leisure-time calendars.

Here’s a look at several projects scheduled to open in 2016 or early 2017, featuring more apartments, more amenities, and robotic parking to boot!

A hotel with a view

The area’s first AC Hotel by Marriott at 1 N. Webster St. promises to be more European in design with high-end finishes and contemporary lines and furniture. It will be the second ground-up Marriott AC project for Wisconsin-based Kraemer Brothers LLC, which just completed its first in Cincinnati. (Marriott operates more than 70 AC-branded hotels internationally.) The North Central Group is the hotel’s developer, owner, and manager, while Gary Brink & Associates is handling architectural duties.

Once completed, local residents wanting to feel like visitors might be clamoring to get inside.

Marriott’s design standards will be evident on the first floor and throughout the AC Hotel Madison. (Gary Brink & Associates Inc.)

Unlike many hotels, the public will be able to enjoy what could be the hotel’s most impressive asset — its top two floors. The ninth floor will feature a glass-enclosed bar, an open-air terrace with fire pits, and views from the Capitol dome, down East Washington Avenue, and to Lake Monona.

An indoor staircase will lead to a 10th floor bar and restaurant with an open kitchen design and a main dining room. The top floor will also include meeting and banquet spaces and unending views over downtown and the isthmus.

Ground broke on the 165-room hotel last August and the aggressive schedule calls for it to be completed by December and open for business in January 2017.

Located on the former Pahl Tire site at the corner of East Washington Avenue and Webster Street, the hotel’s construction is unique because of its tight, high-density location at a very busy traffic corner.

Below street level, construction is just as tight. “We’re lot line to lot line, so we had to work with engineers to design retention systems to support not only our foundation but also the foundations of neighboring properties,” notes Greg Callin, vice president of client services at Kraemer, something he says is not unusual when building in an urban area.

Two levels of underground parking will hold 80 cars. “It will have a stackable parking system like you’d find in downtown Manhattan,” Callin explains. In fact, it’s the first such parking structure of its kind in the city. “Cars will be lifted and placed with mechanical lifts, but guests of the hotel won’t see that.” For that reason, valet parking will be required.

The site presents other construction challenges, as well, such as coordinating deliveries. With the hotel’s small footprint, Kraemer must maintain access for material deliveries while still allowing for proper traffic flows around the busy corner.

To compensate, each delivery, from structure through finishes, will be scheduled on an as-needed basis. “Nothing will get delivered to the site that won’t be used immediately,” Callin explains. “There is no storage space.”

When concrete pouring begins, trucks will be staged off-site and then brought in one by one; as each truck is emptied, the next will move in. “Once you start pouring concrete, you don’t want to stop. Those will be full days of pouring.”

Sometime in March, passersby should notice the hotel rising vertically at the top of the hill.

The hotel’s cost has yet to be revealed. “Marriott has very high standards for finishes in this brand of hotel,” Callin says, “but it’s always a tricky coordination to keep the budget intact between the architect designing the building and Marriott, which approves all the finishes.” TIF was not requested and the city will benefit from property and room taxes generated.

The AC Hotel by Marriott is a legacy project for The North Central Group, which operates hotels in six states. Thus far, Madison is the smallest U.S. city to host the new Marriott brand, joining the likes of Chicago, Kansas City, Miami, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Cincinnati.

That recognition alone should be something to crow about.



Uncommon digs

Stevens Construction is no stranger to large, student housing projects. The local company has worked on many, particularly in Big Ten college towns like Ann Arbor, Mich. and West Lafayette, Ind., thanks to a relationship it has with Chicago-based CA Ventures.

A rendering of the high-tech and student-focused Uncommon, as viewed from Dayton Street. (Shepley Bulfinch)

Uncommon, a student housing project that broke ground in May 2015, is one such project being targeted to young, high-tech-minded students. It should be fully operational by August 1.

Located at 114-116 N. Bedford St., the 260,000-square-foot facility will include two towers, one that is eight stories and one that is 10 stories in height, and consist of 179 apartments (372 bedrooms) and 83 above-grade parking stalls, plus secure bicycle and moped parking.

“There are a lot of worn-down houses around Madison,” notes Geoff Vine, president of Stevens Construction. “Being able to bring this density together into a tighter area helps free up the sprawl and an inefficiency of students located all across the isthmus.”

What’s cooking? An Uncommon kitchen area will feature the comforts and necessities of home. (Shepley Bulfinch)

In fact, Vine says high-density construction downtown has had a reclaiming effect over the last five to 10 years. “A lot of neighborhoods have reverted back to single-family, sole ownership. Look at the Jenifer Street-Spaight Street area. There are hardly any students living there anymore. It’s a neat side effect.”

Uncommon will offer a contemporary design, free Wi-Fi throughout, a game room, yoga studio, and coffee shop. In addition, a fifth-floor open terrace area will provide a central courtyard for community gatherings such as movies or get-togethers, allowing residents to get to know one another. Rental rates per person will range between $624 and $1,579 per month.

The $40 million project is expected to generate an estimated $500,000 boost in tax revenue to the city, and CA Ventures will retain ownership and operations of the building, with staff and offices located on site.

Since the Great Recession, Stevens Construction, which recently completed the Domain Apartments downtown, has experienced a boom with market rate apartments and student housing, according to Vine.

“The university has purposely let private developers fill the student housing need,” Vine says. “The market-rate apartment is kind of our specialty, and we have been in the right place at the right time for that growth.”

Luxurious tower

Not far away, Stevens Construction is also in the throes of another housing complex at 433 W. Johnson St. From Orosz Properties, this 13-story structure will be known as The Lux, and its 177,130 square feet of space will include a rooftop pool, 160 market-rate apartments, and underground parking. Located just on the periphery of campus, The Lux will target young professionals and be available June 1.

Units will feature high-end décor such as granite or quartz countertops and stainless steel appliances, plus private outdoor balconies with gas grills allowed. Continental breakfast will be available each weekday morning, and rental rates will range from $1,150 to more than $1,500 per month.

Big-screen TVs in the vehicle-waiting area of The Lux will help tenants and visitors pass the time. (Resident360)

The Lux will have a robotic underground parking system that is the first of its kind in Madison. “It cost about $3 million,” notes Les Orosz, developer and owner of The Lux, “but rather than accommodate 70 vehicles in two-levels of parking, we can accommodate 150 because the cars are parked closer together.” Tenants will pay an additional $200 per month for parking and request their vehicle through an app. Depending on the number of requests at one time, retrieval should take just a few minutes.

“A big problem in the city is that most developers aren’t putting enough parking in. That will put an enormous amount of pressure on the city to build more parking ramps in the future,” Orosz cautions. Because the $20 million Lux was built without TIF, he says he’s not a burden to the parking situation downtown. “That’s an advantage to the city.”

For a fascinating example of the robotic parking system, check out the video at www.oroszproperties.com/lux.



West Wash techno reno

On the heels of its mixed-use Ovation project at 309 W. Johnson Street, Hovde Properties LLC is in renovation mode with 316 W. Washington Ave., where after 45 years the two-tower, 10-story concrete building is receiving a well-deserved $24 million facelift.

Hovde Properties purchased the building in 2014. “Our objective is repositioning it in the marketplace and putting it back into productive use,” notes C.J. Wessel, director of marketing.

The building has about 247,000 square feet of space, including 155,000 square feet of office space, and is strictly for commercial use. It offers underground parking, a full interior truck-loading dock, a common plaza, common conference room, bike storage, and a fitness center. Being located so close to the Capitol and the Overture Center is an added bonus.

Renovations included adding windows and an exterior plaza, cleaning and improving the interior, and making space for a restaurant on the ground floor of each tower. One restaurant, Red Sushi, has applied for a liquor license, but as of this writing that application was still under review.

When fully occupied — which should be soon since only two spaces remain to be leased — 316 W. Washington is expected to bring more than 600 employees to the downtown area. Described as “creative/loft” space, the project has been particularly popular with new startup tech companies such as Filament Games, EatStreet, Catalyze, and Sega, among others. AT&T, the only tenant in the building when Hovde purchased it, remains a tenant.

“Depending on a new assessment, which hasn’t been done yet, we expect the building to create over $16 million in new tax base,” Wessel says.

This spring, the facelift will be complete when a signature, 10-story tall art feature is added to the exterior of the building. Described as “textural pigments including reflective micro glass and metallic flakes,” Wessel says the massive piece will soften the “brutalist style” of the building with “an array of lighting to simulate energy and movement.

“It will be exciting for the community to watch the progress as it’s completed.”

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine – your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.