The project for a mixed-use building to house a PCC grocery store and apartment complex at the current City People’s Garden Store site had its fourth public comment meeting on June 6th. Madison Valley neighbors continue to be unhappy with the design.
One individual even paraphrased an infamous quote about the Vietnam War bombing operation that killed as many as 1,000 civilians and destroyed the village of Ben Tre. “The city has decided that it has become necessary to destroy the village to save the village,” said Mark McDermott, a former city personnel director. “This project is not welcome in our community.”
When the project for 2925 East Madison Street was initially proposed, several neighbors formed a protest group, Save Madison Valley, to raise their concerns and reduce the negative impact from some aspects of the project.
The project, which was initially proposed in 2016, includes plans for a mixed-use retail and residential building along East Madison Street. A primary complaint from Madison Valley neighbors is that all of the design iterations increase the building height by four stories along East Madison Street at the front, and six additional stories along the back side of the building along Dewey Place East.
The latest design, which was submitted in January, proposed solutions to two complaints from neighbors: that the homes along Dewey Place East would face a featureless parking garage wall and that traffic in and out of the garage would bottleneck traffic on East Madison Street. The architects’ solution to the first complaint was to add a row of townhomes in order to transition the building character into the neighborhood. For the second complaint, they proposed adding a second entrance to the garage, accessible from Dewey Place, for residents only in order to disburse traffic flow.
In the new designs, seven units were added from the original design, and it was reduced by 16 parking spaces.
The members of the community and Save Madison Valley did not appreciate the updates, and some even said that the latest design is even worse than before. Concerns were raised that Dewey Place East isn’t wide enough to handle additional traffic, the design is bulkier than before, and that too many trees would be lost in the project’s construction.
“Trying to fit the design into the proposed site is like trying to fit a very large square peg in a very small round hole,” said Tony Hacker, a neighbor who lives across from the proposed site of the building.
Former Madison Park Community Council president Mark McPherson spoke as well, saying, “It’s that kind of project, because the question is, when does a project go to far?” he said. “This might be the project that goes too far.”
The next step is for the project to undergo environmental review, which will take place in the coming months.
Featured photo courtesy of Studio Meng Strazzara