By Tia Lecorchick staff writer
The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) approved Kathi Russell for a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA), after more than a year of stalled negotiations, with certain conditions. “I am delighted,” said Russell. “We will start construction right away.” Russell, owner of the historic Mapp-Gilmore building located at 200 West Washington Street in Madison, and her team of representatives, which included Joe Reitman, the Madison city attorney, appeared before the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) on May 13, to present her latest design proposal for the currently demolished building’s reconstruction to acquire COA, the next step required before reconstruction of the Mapp-Gilmore building can begin. Nearly 30 community members crammed into the meeting hall, some supporting the project and others protesting it. After an hour-long discussion, the HPC approved Russell’s plans with the following conditions: that the central pilasters be widened to match the design of the original building, the stepped parapets are returned to the side elevations, the windows be wood or cellular PVC, the doors will be wood with SDL muntins, the left elevation doors will be four panel, that the materials of the roof and porch railing be confirmed with the board, and new brick and mortar color be approved by staff. Board member Richard Simpson was the only one to oppose the approval on the account of the proposed height for the building.
“The Devil is in the details,” said Richard Simpson regarding the height of the building. “This is where I am stuck because we are charged with such an important task of maintaining the history of this community,” said Simpson. The board originally pressed Russell to reduce the overall height of the building by another foot, to ensure the reconstruction aligned with the original height of the historical building, but ended up compromising on this point. Russell’s representation argued that the updated plans already reduced the proposed height from 33 feet, 3 inches to 29 feet and 9 inches. According to Reitman, any further reduction in height would interfere with structural necessities. “While I would love to see a one foot reduction, we could not find a way to reduce it any further,” Reitman. Eric Joyce, HPC member, favored the compromise. “I personally would like to see another foot of height reduction, but in reality, I think it is a small price to pay for all the other changes that have been made,” said Joyce. Chris McCauley, an HPC member, was also eager to compromise.
“I would also like to commend Mrs. Russell and her team. These changes are great to see,” said McCauley. The HPC opened the floor to public comment about the matter before putting it to a vote. Sharon Ross voiced her disdain for the entire project. “It’s been completely destroyed and it’s not coming back. We have lost an important historic building and we should be honest about that. To call any new building on that site a historical reconstruction is a fraud and a lie,” said Ross. Angela Daniel, who is on the health department board countered Ross’s complaint. “I pass the site every day on the way to work. It’s a terrible eye sore. You might consider it a fraud to let it continue to look that way. Do we want to continue looking at it the way it is or do we want it to be beautiful again?” asked Daniel. Now that the HPC approved Russell for the COA, Russell will not have to to go before the HPC again until it comes time to build the roof, porch and select new bricks.