If you’ve been following this committee, here’s the digest version – The Surplus Property Committee voted Jan. 5 to accept the O’Kroley proposal for 646 E. Gorham, and the Klebba-Waugh proposal for 704 E. Gorham.
The city committee charged with disposing of (the land-management term for selling) three city-owned houses located on James Madison Park land accepted proposals for the remaining two houses at their final meeting Jan. 5. The houses, at 640, 646, and 704 E Gorham St. sit on James Madison Park land just west of the former Lincoln School, and are all designated city Landmarks. The house at 704 is the former Collins House B&B. The city will retain the land and collect lease fees from the new owners of the houses. This was the second round of proposals. After the first round, completed in 2011, the committee accepted a proposal for the house at 640 from Joe Lusson and Aleen Tierney. The meeting was to decide on proposals for 646 and 704.
Each house had garnered three proposals.
The house at 646 received proposals from Joe D. McCormick and Company, a Madison property management company, who would retain the current four-unit plan; from Dawn O’Kroley, an architect with Dorschner Associates who also would retain the four-unit plan and who committed to retaining the historic character of the house with a sustainable rehabilitation in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards; and from Henry Doane and Jackie Suska who would convert the house back to a single-family layout. Doane is the creator of four local restaurants that included rehabs of historic buildings (the Blue Marlin, the Orpheum Theater Lobby, the Tornado Steak House, and Tempest).
The house at 704 received proposals from Joe D. McCormick Company, who would divide the house into seven one-bedroom apartments; from Bob Klebba and David Waugh, who would remodel the house to operate it as a B&B; and from Barbara Fant, who would restore the house for her daughter and son-in-law.
Teams had already presented their proposals at a previous meeting of the committee, so this meeting did not include presentations. There was only a public comment period. Proposers used the three-minute limit to make final arguments to the committee, who had already scored the proposals based on seven criteria. There were many other registrants, many of whom spoke in support of their favored proposal.
After hearing all testimony, the committee started their discussion with the house at 646. Discussion was focused on the O’Kroley and Doane/Suska proposals. It appeared that the the McCormick proposal didn’t have a realistic chance of being selected. It got the lowest scores from every committee member. Committee members were split on single-family vs. multi-unit plans. After about ten minutes of discussion, Alder Mark Clear moved to accept the O’Kroley proposal, Alder Bridget Maniaci seconded. When the vote was called it was split 2-2 after Maniaci passed and architect Andy Bramen-Wanek abstained. When it came back to Maniaci, she abstained, suggesting the issue be kicked to the Council, and the motion failed.
The committee moved on to the house at 704, committing to revisit to 646 later in the meeting. Discussion again excluded the McCormick proposal and focused on the Klebba-Waugh and Fant proposals. These two again represented the single-family vs. multi-unit layouts, but discussion centered on the details of the proposals and not the proposed use. Committee members brought up team qualifications, financial plans, business models (the Fant proposal included a commercial kitchen and catering-type business based on the Farm-to-Form model), and the restoration experience of the proposers. Alder Clear moved acceptance of the Klebba-Waugh proposal. The motion was seconded. After brief discussion the motion passed on a 4-2 vote. Klebba and Waugh had recruited supporters to testify, and they were persuasive. One committee member even stated that he had shifted his support to Klebba and Waugh after hearing the testimony despite scoring the Fant proposal higher.
The committee then returned to the proposals for 646 E. Gorham. Alder Maniaci asked Dan Rolfs, staff with the Planning department, about how the proposals would affect the assessment of the house. Rolfs responded that it is dangerous to speculate on the future assessment and offered no clear advice. With no further discussion Alder Clear moved to accept the O’Kroley proposal. The motion passed on a 3-2 vote with Bramen-Wanek abstaining.
The Madison Trust elected to not endorse any one proposal over the others. We did testify at earlier meetings that the most desirable situation for both houses would be under owner-occupancy rather than under the management of an absentee landlord. We were confident that the least desirable proposals, those of the property management company, had little chance of being accepted over the others. That left two proposals for each of the houses. We felt that all four of these proposals involved experienced people who were clearly valued the historic character of the houses and were ready to invest in the neighborhood. It was a wonderful situation to have people competing for the opportunity to rehabilitate Landmark buildings.
Category: Executive Director's Blog