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Wednesday, April 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 50.0° F  Light Rain
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MADISON.GOV

Demolition fever downtown for a hotel development

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Weeks after unveiling plans for a $100 million downtown hotel project, Apex Enterprises is seeking demolition permits for several houses on the one-acre site at Henry and Wilson streets.

One of those is the Sayle Flats, 151 W. Wilson St., which the Madison Trust wants to designate as a landmark.

The three-story home was built in 1911 by George Sayle, Madison's mayor from 1916 to 1920. According to the Madison Trust nomination, it blends elements of Queen Anne and Colonial Revival and "retains good or better integrity than any other [such dwelling] in Madison right now."

Shortly after the house was nominated, Apex replaced the two front columns with ones that are not historic. But the trust still considers it a significant structure.

And some wonder if it's too soon to bring out the wrecking balls, since the project is nowhere near approval. "Under no circumstances can I see the demolition permit being granted, prior to the other approvals being granted," says Ald. Mike Verveer. "We just don't operate that way in city hall."

Bruce Bosben, Apex chairman, says the permits are required before plans can be approved. But, he assures, "We would not demolish anything until we are ready to start construction. And I'm anticipating construction wouldn't start for a couple of years."

If the hotel project goes through, the Madison Trust hopes Apex will move the Sayle house. Bosben is open to the idea. "We have a site at Gorham Street we're hoping to be able to move it onto," he says. "It's a huge house. It's probably going to have to be cut in half."

A boarding house at 315 S. Henry St. is also slated for demolition as part of the project. Owned by Porchlight, the house is being swapped for two others that Apex bought and renovated, says Steven Schooler, Porchlight executive director.

"We wouldn't have done this," he says, "if we couldn't have gotten replacement units."

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