DMNA Letter Re. Proposed Development of Associated Bank Site

January 9, 2018
To Whom It May Concern,

We are writing in regards to Urban Land Interests’ (ULI) proposal to redevelop the current Associated Bank property at 1720 Monroe St into a 5-story mixed-use building. We wish to inform you that the Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association (DMNA), which represents the neighborhood surrounding and including this property, neither supports nor opposes ULI’s plans as proposed.

Both the immediate neighbors and the governance Council of DMNA are deeply concerned about the prospect of a 5-story building being constructed on this site. While the building as proposed would not be taller than the neighboring Monroe Commons building, it would begin to establish the height of that property as a precedent for the area, which we strongly oppose. While we are not opposed to the concept of increased density and improved retail vitality along Monroe St, the neighborhood immediately surrounding this site is comprised of single-family homes, making the transition to 5- and 6-story buildings on Monroe St too drastic.

We are deeply concerned about the continued “canyonization” of Monroe St, which we do not believe fits either the current character of the neighborhood or the atmosphere that Madison would like Monroe St to eventually enjoy. For these reasons, we cannot support ULI’s proposal for this site. We consider it highly unfortunate that ULI asserts that a 4-story development would not be economically viable for them.

At the same time, we recognize the inevitability of this site being redeveloped—we do not want a vacant lot in our neighborhood any more than anyone else does—and believe that ULI very well may be the best possible development partner for this location at this time. ULI proposes to construct an undeniably beautiful and high-quality building, two qualities that are in far too short of supply in modern construction projects.

We believe that ULI is targeting a demographic—families both trying to get started and ready to downsize—which will fit naturally into the culture of the neighborhood. Perhaps more importantly than any of this, we believe that the way ULI has approached the proposal process and engaged with us and the immediate neighbors is nothing short of exemplary and should be considered a model for other developers in the city. ULI has taken many of our concerns seriously, and has proactively gone above and beyond to revise their proposal to address our concerns about noise, parking, character, and safety. We are very aware that most developers would not have engaged with us like this, and the result is a proposal that is generally acceptable to us aside from its overall mass and height. For these reasons, we do not oppose ULI’s proposal for this site either.

ULI is the right developer for this site, with a proposal that is strong but simply too big for the character of the surrounding neighborhood and the future of Monroe St. We are not in a position to evaluate ULI’s claim that a smaller building with the same level of quality, care,
and appeal is not economically viable, and we simply cannot say whether we would prefer ULI’s proposal or a smaller but lower-quality alternative. In an ideal world, we believe, ULI would find a way to further reduce the size of this project while still being able to support the design standards it espouses and the community partnership it demonstrates.

David Hoffert
President, Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association

Joel Bodilly
Chair, Zoning Committee, Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association