The Madison Trust for Historic Presentation is pushing an alternate vision for the 100 block of State Street, calling for the existing buildings to be renovated instead of razed.
Jerome Frautschi and Pleasant Rowland, benefactors of the Overture Center, have proposed demolishing half of the 100 block of State Street. They would replace it with a $10 million office building and private plaza on Fairchild Street, facing toward the Overture Center. The original plans called for reconstructing the faades of the buildings on State Street.
City planners, city staff and preservationsists oppose the plans, which would demolish two historic landmarks. In response to this criticism, Frautschi and Rowland have already agreed to preserve, rather than reconstruct, the faade of one of these buildings, the Castle & Doyle building at 125 State St.
Last night at a neighborhood steering committee on the project, the Madison Trust presented an alternate vision. These plans call for renovating and preserving all of the buildings on the block and transforming the rear of the historic buildings on Fairchild Street into storefronts.
Architect Elizabeth Cwik presented renderings -- still in rough draft -- depicting how this could look. Cwik said after the meeting that the buildings have been neglected, but are still quality structures with a lot of life left in them. "I can't look at an old building without seeing what it can be," Cwik said. "I've seen some remarkable transformations."
One building that Frautshci and Rowland want to tear down, 122 W. Mifflin St., does not have historic status, but is treasured by preservationists. Located on the corner of Mifflin and Fairchild, Cwik said the building is "screaming out for a rooftop café." The views from this building of both the Capitol and Overture "would be amazing," and the renovated buildings would also look great from the Overture Center, she added.
Cwik also said that the current plans, to raze this building to make room for a private plaza, would create a "dead space."
"These little pocket parks have proven really bad ideas," she added. "They're barren plazas where nobody sits."
The renovated buildings would be much more attractive and suitable as offices for the creative class, Cwik said, and likely have more rentable space than a new building. Renovating these buildings would also extend the historic district of State Street down Fairchild.
Earlier, Jason Tish, executive director of the Madison Trust, criticized the developers' current approach of rebuilding facades. He said many cities have begun to prize their historic buildings. "People are attracted to these places in ways they're not attracted to office parks and suburban malls," he said. "State Street is the essence of what downtown is to a lot of people."
He pointed out examples of where historic facades have been preserved in front of modern construction. One example he gave was of the renovation of Chicago's Soldier Field, which he says is "universally despised."
Tish also talked about the Overture Center, which incorporated some historical facades into the ultra-modern design for the rest of the center. "The success of this has been debated. In my opinion, they're a failure," Tish said, adding, "It's so dishonest and jarring."
Representatives of Frautschi's design team were at the meeting and said they would be responding to the alternate plan.