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Common council stops Mansion Hill redevelopment

Common council stops Mansion Hill redevelopment

The Madison Common Council upheld a ruling by the City Landmarks Commission early Wednesday morning to halt a redevelopment project in the Mansion Hill Historic District.

Steve Brown Apartments wants to knock down the 10-story Highlander building and other structures to make room for three five-story buildings in the 100 block of Gilman Street.

The landmarks commission said it was out of scale and the council upheld their ruling after debating until 2 a.m. Wednesday morning during the Tuesday-night meeting.

A statement from Steve Brown CEO Margaret Watson said the company is saddened by the council's decision.

"Ultimately we believe that the city will discover that if it is serious about preserving its historic spaces, it will modernize the ordinances," Watson said. "We are concerned about the need to keep the district healthy and intent to examine these issues in depth."

Prep pipes for plummeting temps, utility says

As temperatures were predicted to drop into the single digits Thursday night, a utility department reminded Madison residents to prepare their homes to protect pipes from bursting. 

The Madison Water Utility said a few preventative steps taken now can help avoid a messy -- and costly -- consequence. 

The department recommended that Madisonians:

  • Check outdoor spigots to make sure all hoses are
  • Disconnect hoses from outdoor spigots
  • Make sure outdoor spigots are turned off and drained
  • Insulate pipes in unheated areas like crawl spaces, unheated garages, attics
  • Leave some heat on in unused areas of the home

If a resident is planning to go out of town for a few days, the water utility also suggests to: 

New development to include apartments, MFD admin offices

A $60 million partnership between Madison and developer Hovde Properties was announced Tuesday, and includes a new home for the Madison Fire Department.

The multi-use project called Ovation will be built at 309 West Johnson St, and will feature 255 apartments, and retail and commercial space.

"This development is not only first-class in its materials, design and architecture, but an opportunity to create a better walkable environment to live, work and play in downtown Madison," Hovde President Mike Slavish said in a release.

The 14-story structure includes 30,000 square feet that will be the administrative home to the Madison Fire Department.

Orpheum Theater gets new owner, outlook

Orpheum Theater gets new owner, outlook

For the first time in a long time, Madison's Orpheum Theater has a new owner and he has big changes in mind for the historic building.

Businessman Gus Paras bought the Orpheum Friday -- a move that comes with an array of necessary upgrades, and a future free of lawsuits and feuds that have long plagued the theater.

Tom Titley, a Madison native, was a teenager when he'd visit the theater to watch Western movies.

"Tourists walk up and down here, and inevitably they stop and take pictures," said Titley.

The Orpheum opened in 1926, and debuted about 2,000 seats and ornate architecture.

For at least the past decade, the Orpheum has been plagued with problems and Titley wishes they could be fixed.

"It means something to me because of being raised here and going to the theater," said Titley.

Paras might be the solution.

"We finally figured out how to do it and we're done, it's final," Paras said. "It's over, I bought it."

UW, city ask for resident help on Library Mall design

UW, city ask for resident help on Library Mall design

After almost two years of construction, Madison residents and UW students are finally getting a glimpse of what a new State Street Mall could look like.

UW held an open meeting tonight at the Memorial Union asking for public input and answering questions for multiple designs. Plans for the joint space between the 700 block of State Street and Park Street were explained to about a dozen people.

According to Madison's Principle Planner, Bill Fruhling, the last two blocks of State Street are under city jurisdiction. Everything west, is owned by the University.

Residents and students have asked more lights be put in to make the mall safer at night. Fruhling said there are also plans to add a bike lane and more shade for pedestrians. He added there will also be a new design to manage food cart lines.

Gino's to close after 50 years on State St.

Gino's to close after 50 years on State St.

By chef and owner Gino Gargano's estimation, he's made more than 3.6 million pizzas at his State Street eatery since he opened in 1963. Gargano announced Thursday morning he would serve his last stuffed slices next month.

Gargano said he's closing the Italian restaurant's doors to retire. His wife of 23 years, Stella, said Gargano works seven days a week getting up at 5 a.m. to make his sauces and dough from scratch. At 73 years old, he's ready for a break.

"It'll be hard, it won't be easy," Stella Gargano said. "He's stubborn, he wants to do everything from scratch. But he's 73, he needs to slow down a little bit."

Gino Gargano was born and raised in Sicily, and moved to Madison in his early 20s. He opened Gino’s at 540 State St. on July 5, 1963, and will close Oct. 31.