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Developers share plans for Stadium Bar site

Published On: Dec 06 2012 10:34:14 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 07 2012 08:19:16 AM CST

The developers pushing to rebuild the property where a popular Madison bar now stands got a chilly reaction from neighbors Thursday, although the plan will likely move forward anyway.

Leaders from the Minneapolis-based Opus Group revealed their proposal to buy the Stadium Bar property and build an eight-story mixed-use development. It would include 100 apartments, first-floor retail space and underground parking.

About 50 people packed a small meeting room at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Union South on Thursday. Many were neighbors, concerned about parking, whether the retail space would be successful, and losing nostalgia in the neighborhood.

UW-Madison Police Chief Sue Riseling said increased crime was her main concern.

"There's all sorts of crime information that says, the minute you go above a certain height, crime in the building goes up tremendously," she said. "Anything over four stories, the density just gets unwieldy."

The property's current owners, a group from Madison, are looking to sell to the Opus Group. That's a private deal and the city has no authority over it, Madison Common Council President Shiva Bidar-Sielaff said.

The mixed-use development requires a zoning change but, if the developers submit the same plan it presented Thursday, campus-area Alderman Scott Resnick said city leaders would almost certainly approve it.

The development would include 90 to 120 apartment, with a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. There would only be 40 underground parking spaces, but developers said many college student tenants wouldn't have cars.

Retail customers would need to park off-site, and neighbors worried it would be in front of their homes.

"I don't think any of (the concerns) are prohibitive," said Julie Ledger, a vice president of The Opus Group's Milwaukee office. "We've got a little work to do. Obviously the parking issue is an important one, and we need to think that through."

Some people said the loss of the Stadium Bar would send 2,500 Badger fans looking for a place to party on game days. One UW grad said the developers "were looking to change the corner of history," because of the importance of the Camp Randall Stadium block to Madison.

Another bar could fill some of the first-floor commercial space, Ledger said.

“There are hundreds of potential retailers on the list and absolutely, a bar and a restaurant would be a logical choice,” she said. “If there are bar and restaurant owners that are interested in that location, I hope to hear from them, we're hearing from some already.”

If the project sticks to its current timeline, Opus would submit its plans to the city in February. It would face a number of votes before arriving at the council in April.

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