Friday, October 3, 2008

Stop Putting Landmark Status on Every Building in Madison

It's hard enough for developers to build in Madison, because neighborhood associations and aldermen are contentious as hell to everything. What seems to be the best way to further curb development in Madison? Add landmark status to a building.

I am for preserving history, but not everything in Madison is worth preserving! Take a look at the buildings on the Capitol Square. Most are outdated facilities that would better serve the population if they were torn down and/or remodeled. But instead, the Madison Landmark Commission wants landmark status on basically the entire block of North Pinckney Street, which would be better as a new office building or hotel rather than the run-down buildings they are now.

As reported in today's Wisconsin State Journal, a Madison architect wants landmark status on the U.S. Bank glass building, which would complicate or block plans to update the structure. This building needs it badly, with its energy inefficiencies. The plan was even cleared with the city's Plan Commission.

Another building that should be torn down is the old Badger Office Supply store in the 100 block of West Mifflin. That would be another great location for either office space or a hotel, but instead, the Commission wants landmark status.

One last example is the fire-damaged St. Raphael Cathedral. It sat for three years until the Madison Diocese finally had the smarts and courage to order its demolition so the cathedral could begin anew. Guess what? The Commission lashed out, as it wanted to add landmark status to the partially destroyed building (a very stupid gesture). Good response from Diocese spokesman Brent King, who pointed out it was the city which ordered the building repaired or razed: "The ... concerns and considerations of the Landmark Commission could have been brought forward at any time in the previous three years, prior to the city's summons ... or the initial start of deconstruction, however were not."

Madison should be a forward-thinking community, not a hyper-conservative one!

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