Chrysler dealership coming to Madison

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By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer

On May 27, The Corridor Design Commission (CDC) unanimously voted to approve an application for an alteration and extension to the property located at 1860 Eatonton Road, contingent upon several conditions. The site was previously the old Pontiac dealership that has been vacant for over five years. Al Picken and Malcolm Cunningham are planning to renovate the building to transform it into a new state-of-the-art Chrysler car dealership. The CDC reviewed Picken’s designs to ensure the updated building remains faithful to the established look and standards of Madison. The CDC had several concerns with the submitted designs, revolving around certain proposed building materials and the placement of glass windows coming down all the way to the ground. The inclusion of brushed aluminum window trim, windows to reaching the floor, Exterior Insulating Finishing System (EIFS), and silver metallic panels, were all items of concern for the CDC. “My concern is purely for precedant.

We have to be careful of the precedents we set,” said Richmond Wall, CDC member. “It’s also a lot of glass to ask to go all the way down to the ground.” “I understand that, but my main concern is car displays. People need to be able to see the cars inside,” said Picken. Monica Callahan, city planner, was mostly concerned about the window design and use of EIFS, which is a foam-based insulating material that is far less durable than stucco, but noted the overall designs were not far off from Madison standards.

“The good news is, what is on the table looks like it has some relationship to the architecture of Madison. That’s your measure, how much the architecture looks like Madison,” said Callahan. The CDC compromised with Picken by allowing windows surrounding the main entrance doorway to come all the way down to the ground, but mandated that around the rest of the building there must be a knee-wall, at least two feet high, to keep the Madison look. Approval was also contigent on the EIFS being upgraded to a stucco product. The CDC also granted approval on the condition that Pickens return to the CDC to show them a physical example of the silver metallic panels proposed in the submitted plans. “The guideline does call for natural colors, but where you have some flexibility is when we are looking at buildings that are more modern like this one” said Callahan. “You can have some latitude on that.” “It is something that is instilled in all the dealerships. It’s all about branding,” said Pickens.

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