While several other high-profile buildings projects in Madison have hit the skids, the Alexander Company has pushed on with its ambitious $110 million redevelopment of the 300 block of West Washington Avenue called Capitol West.
First proposed in 2004 at the height of the housing boom, the project called for taking the shell of the former Meriter Hospital building and converting it into condos. Work has moved along in fits and starts, however, with delays both in design and construction.
“It seems like we spent most of January and February just clearing off snow,” says Rodger Galloway, superintendent for J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.
With the weather much improved, there are now some 225 workers on site hurriedly hanging dry wall, installing counter tops and laying flooring.
The former Meriter building at 309 W. Washington Ave., now divided among 126 units, is ready for a June move in. Another 40 units in the Capitol Court Townhomes and Washington Rowhouses are planned for a mid-summer opening.
On the other side of West Washington, the completion of Phase II of Metropolitan Place remains on hold, although about 60 of 164 units are occupied. That 13-story tower fell into receivership in March after developer Cliff Fisher and his partners defaulted on loans with Associated and LaSalle banks.
Capitol West was on shaky footing itself in the summer of 2006 when Findorff abruptly pulled crews off the site after construction costs came in higher than first estimated, and sales for new units lagged.
But developers reconfigured the project, cut some costs and work began again in November 2006. Plans for a second condominium tower were replaced with a proposal for an 11-story, 151-room Hyatt Place hotel, expected to open within the next two years. Another 130 condominium homes are scheduled for a later phase.
Downtown Ald. Mike Verveer has been a big booster of the project from the be ginning and says he was glad to see it finally coming to fruition.
“Obviously, the Alexander Company knew what it was doing,” he says. “Plus, they were helped with some pretty significant financial help from the city to get it going.”