Friday, September 17, 2010

Why the Edgewater keeps reminding me of this sad, dark and unfinished building

White Elephant on a Gray Day
You know the one I mean -- that "stadium hotel" across from Camp Randall at Regent and Monroe Street. It looked especially sad, dark and unfinished as I drove by in the general gloom of Thursday afternoon -- a white elephant on a rainy day. It's the building with the financing that fell down and couldn't get back up again. Snowdrifts piled up in the unused entryway last winter, and the building still sits unfinished, though I've read the developer was trying to bring in an investor to jump start the project, which has been built but remains unfinished inside.

I drive by it often, and whenever I do, I can't help thinking about the Edgewater redevelopment project and TIF district downtown. And when I follow the debate about the Edgewater, I think of this thing -- "Hotel Red," according to the signs taped to the windows promising jobs and opportunities. Maybe. I'll believe it when I see some signs of life.

The Edgewater is downtown. This is on the near west side, at 1501 Monroe Street. The Edgewater is a proposed renovation with some new construction. This is all-new. The Edgewater overlooks Madison's grandest lake. This overlooks a football stadium and a busy intersection. Why are they so intertwined in my mind?

Probably because both projects were pushed through the approval project on a bandwagon of wildly optimistic projections that rolled over widespread neighborhood opposition. In the case of Hotel Red, the optimism faded and the neighborhood was left with nothing but an eyesore that has stood empty for more than a year now. The Edgewater TIF project is bigger and more complex, and there's a lot more at stake for downtown development in general and the Mansion Hill historic neighborhood in particular.

Sure, maybe the Edgewater proponents are right in their plans and projections and promises. But I can't help wondering every time I drive by this ghost building.


Anonymous said...

The neighborhood deserves this eyesore. The Vilas Neighborhood Association and the area's alder, Julia Kerr, fought this project tooth and nail from the very beginning, bogging it down in red tape, sandbagging it in needless restrictions and, in the end, pushing the developer back more than a year in his projected timetable. While Bob Seger isn't without fault in this, if the city had taken a more developer-friendly approach, this project would be open and thriving today.

--Keen political observer

Anonymous said...

*edit* Bob SIEGER ** The developer, not the guy that sang "Hollywood Nights."


Anonymous said...

I was under the impression that it is back on its feet again. Two weeks ago it wes covered in paper, this week the paper came down, those HotelRed signs went up and there is actually some furniture inside.