Thursday, December 17, 2009
Unfinished boutique hotel and monument to irrational exuberance at Regent and Monroe
I always wondered if the business plan for this planned boutique hotel was written on the back of a napkin by irrationally exuberant alumni in a Camp Randall skybox who wanted to party on after a Badger football game but faced the unwelcome prospect of bucking postgame traffic. The business plan must pretty much have been a restatement of what was on their minds at the moment: Wouldn't it be great if we had a place we could go right across the street? Never mind that it's on the corner of one of the busiest intersections in Madison. That traffic access and parking are huge problems. That a hotel at this location would be sold out for seven home football weekends a year and have no real purpose any other time. Don't let negative thinking get in the way. Push on.
Actually, the reality was more mundane. It was just a developer who had some land he wanted to develop. Originally he wanted to put up condos, but the neighborhood shot that down. He switched to a hotel proposal, but it was deemed too big. He downsized it -- thus the boutique hotel. He came up with the idea on his own, without the help of alumni in skyboxes, as far as we know. He wore down the opposition, got permission to demolish the old building that housed the Copper Grid, and began construction in November, 2008. He hoped to complete it in time for the fall football season, but missed that deadline. Still, the building was nearing completion when construction halted in mid-October. Recently Kraemer Brothers, the contractor, filed a $3.7 million claim against Sieger LLC, the Madison-based developer, and there's no indication when the matter will be resolved. Meanwhile, the UW Fieldhouse and Camp Randall Stadium are reflected in the windows of the unfinished building, and snowdrifts pile up in the unused entryway.