Thursday, April 26, 2007

Condos after Dark: Nolen Shore

On a recent stormy night there were lights in some of the windows on the lake side of Nolen Shore on West Wilson Street overlooking Lake Monona. Since just about all the units on the lake side of this successful development are sold, other residents were presumably enjoying the downtown offerings developer Todd McGrath mentioned in a Madison Magazine interview before construction started, though the Nolen Shore website indicates that some lower level cityside units are still available.
The atmosphere for downtown living has obviously changed. Oh, definitely. The people that are interested in downtown living, it's really driven by a lifestyle. We have Overture, and look at the amenities here, look at the amenities that you could walk to. So I think that people are quietly yearning. This market hasn't been driven by high-profile, downtown people. A lot of these prospects are people who have visited these events - Concerts on the Square and the restaurants. And suddenly this is the theme, creating more choices that don't exist in the marketplace. I think what explained the success of Capitol Point, Union Transfer, Metropolitan Place - ten years ago there weren't choices, and when buyers came from Boston, wanted to find a loft or downtown housing, a lot of Realtors would say, "Well, no, there are not many grown-up people that live down there."
Nolen Shore was designed by Milwaukee firm Eppstein Uhen Architects, and based on the buzz surrounding the project, they opened a Madison office, their first outside Milwaukee. The firm also designed the Monroe Commons development, which has become known as the site of the Madison Trader Joe's.
The firm, which first broke into the Madison market by landing pricey, high-profile projects such as Nolen Shore Condominiums and Monroe Commons, continues to gain new clients on a diverse range of projects.

"We know how to combine bricks and mortar into designs people like," Holzhauer says. "And when people (developers) are making money on the projects, they're happy, too."

Specifically, developers pick the firm because of its depth of experience and detailed, cutting-edge construction plans. Those who live in the Eppstein Uhen-designed condos sound like paid salesmen.

"They created a simple, modern design, but not a cold design," says Debra Stack, a part-time Madison resident who in September moved into her third-floor condo in Nolen Shore. "I find it very appealing. There is absolutely no comparison."
Nolen Shore looms over the Doty School Condominiums next door, but from Wilson Street the feeling of towering size is mitigated by eight townhouse units facing the street that blend in with the surrounding residential neighborhood and provide a substantial setback for the 11-story "mid-rise tower," easing the sense of blank claustrophobia that a large building rising straight up can create at street level.

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