Madison’s Plan Commission on Monday will review what has been a controversial development proposal for the 1600 block of Sherman Avenue.
Chicago-based Vermilion Development is proposing to raze the Filene House at 1617 Sherman Ave. and construct several buildings with a combined 331 apartment and townhome units.
Building A, as identified by the development team, would face Sherman Avenue and Lake Mendota on the northern side of the site.
Building A would be a stepped-back, five-story building with 184 apartments, 189 covered parking spaces and a rooftop lounge space with views of Lake Mendota.
Buildings B1, 2 and 3 would be two-story townhome-style houses that combine for a total of 20 residences with 35 private indoor parking spaces.
A third structure, Building C, would be along the south side of the property facing Tenney Park with the state Capitol in the distance. Building C would be a five-story building with 127 apartments and 140 enclosed parking spaces.
The development team has faced consistent opposition from neighbors who believe that the complex will be too large to blend in with the surrounding area.
There also has been controversy surrounding the razing of the Filene House, which most recently was home to MyChoice Wisconsin but has a nationally significant history dating to the 1950s.
President Harry Truman came to Madison in May 1950 to present a speech during the Filene House’s dedication, when the Credit Union National Association and its insurance affiliate CUNA Mutual relocated there as a headquarters.
In November, Madison’s Landmarks Commission found that the building itself has historic value based on Truman’s dedication event and its significance in the history of the national credit union movement.
In February, however, Madison’s City Council rejected the Landmark Commission’s recommendation and voted against protections for the Filene House, paving the way for the Vermilion development.
On March 6, the Landmarks Commission deadlocked on the issue of whether the proposed development is so large it is “visually intrusive as to adversely affect the historic character or integrity of the adjacent landmarks.”
One motion saying it would be intrusive failed by a 3-3 vote. A subsequent motion to say it wasn’t intrusive also failed by a 3-3 vote.
The Plan Commission will vote Monday on whether to approve a demolition permit for the Filene House as well as to rezone the property for the development proposal.
Opinion: However you look at it, Filene House is history