Monday, June 11, 2007

Condos after Dark: The Colony will be built here. Unless they really are serious about the lake.


One way to illustrate the as yet to be built and constantly changing condo project they call The Colony would have been to go to the Edgewater Pier and shoot a picture of the waves offshore by moonlight. After all, that's where the website says this development will be.
The location of The Colony, at 625 E. Mifflin Street, six blocks north of Capitol Square, was selected to provide residents with a nice vintage neighborhood, blending antique homes, landmark historic structures and infill development, all within walking distance to all the major downtown attractions.
If you follow the street grid north from the Square, heading up Wisconsin Avenue, six blocks will put you in Lake Mendota off the Edgewater. If, instead, you go true north six blocks, you'll end up in Lake Mendota a few hundred yards off James Madison Park. Either way, you'll get wet.

This might be a case of the developers getting a bit too cute in trying to spin perceptions of the site, which technically is northeast of the Square, but which most Madisonians would think of as "east" -- as in 625 East Mifflin (where this building was long ago the headquarters of the Yellow Cab Company, and there used to be a light in the window all night long, with the dispatcher working his board like a Hopperesque nighthawk surrounded by the enfolding night). Were the developers afraid buyers would think six blocks east of the square was a seedy neighborhood and would get cold feet? North probably sounded better when they put together the website.

Or maybe it's just a typo. In any event, it reminds us, that this project may be underwater in a different sense, sinking below the falling water table of a down market. The Colony has been been steadily shrinking since it was proposed last year, the floors just melting away in the soggy market, as Ald. Brenda Konkel points out in her blog, This Side of Town.
When the developers of The Colony first presented their project to the neighborhood association, they presented a 7 story building. After the first meeting, and of their own volition, the changed the building to a 5 story building. I asked why at the time, and the response was that the taller building construction was cost prohibitive. The 5 story project was approved in June 2006 and then . . . nothing happened.

The neighborhood association and I were recently contacted and the new proposal is to build a 3 story building. This time it was explained that the reason for the reduction was because the market has changed and it is hard to get pre-sales for financing.
Kind of makes you wonder about all these exclamation marks and the enthusiastic blurb on their website:
Sales Update!- 3.8.2007

We now have five units which are either RESERVED or SOLD, and activity has increased as we head toward the spring market. Make your appointment today to choose from a wide variety of floor plans and reserve early at our lowest pre-construction prices!
Hmm... Did these five individuals commit to units in the 7-story version, the 5-story versions, or the new, more compact 3-story version? What if the building experiences further shrinkage? Would that affect the units already sold, or do they exist in some sort of condosphere of dreams independent of any actual building that may or may not eventually be constructed?

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