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Forward Movement With American Exchange Development On Capitol Square In Madison

May 5, 2020

I am most pleased with the progress that is taking place with a major development project on the Capitol Square.

When I moved to Madison in late 1986 I needed a new bank.  I made the choice of which one to use by the grand and historic structure holding the bank.   Who would not love to walk in and out of that magnificent building?

The block is now referred to as the American Exchange Development because of the building with that name at 1 N. Pinckney St., located on the corner facing the Capitol Building.

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I have been championing the very much needed development of this underused block on the Capitol Square, which will have as its anchor this distinguished building.  A building  I fell in love with when I started working in the state assembly.

Last night Madison’s Landmarks Commission narrowly approved the demolition of the Centre Seven building at 7 Pinckney St. to make way for a $125 million redevelopment by Urban Land Interests.   Centre Seven is an eyesore and looks like a bad necktie from the 1970’s that ‘Uncle Joe’ would not just throw away.

I have long been a champion for landmark buildings.  But the location of the structure to be demolished, the proposed future benefit to the isthmus of the new development, and the absolute enhanced quality of perspective it will give the Square is without question.

There will be efforts made to ensure that the historic feel of the razed buildings will be preserved.  The development proposal calls for reusing the landmark’s terracotta clam shell windows and ornamental balustrade on the second story.  The storefront look of the original form using terracotta will be undertaken so to match in detail what originally existed.

I have thought a lot about this project as many evenings James and I walk around the Square so to be physically active and away from all others during this pandemic.   I have pondered the drawings and data in my head as we walk along that area and am firmly convinced this is a major win for the isthmus.  To have over 55% of the current site used for surface parking is a travesty for our isthmus.  This site has demanded action for many years.

The city’s Plan and Urban Design commissions and the City Council will still need to approve the project.   But the momentum of this project and the strong support from the movers and shakers both in local government and in business will see this through to completion.

This is a solid win for Madison.

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