Friday, September 17, 2010
Why the Edgewater keeps reminding me of this sad, dark and unfinished building
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.