131 S. Fair Oaks Ave.

A rendering of a proposed development at 131 S. Fair Oaks Ave. The mixed-use building would host 161 apartments, along with commercial and retail space.

JLA Architects

On the east side of Madison, there's a fairly industrial stretch along South Fair Oaks Avenue that hosts a Madison-Kipp Corporation plant, a distribution center and the deteriorating Garner Feed Mill.

But the Feed Mill is slated to be redeveloped into an artisan food production facility with up to 50 micro-lodging units, and there's more redevelopment on the horizon.

A newly proposed plan would replace the distribution center with a five-story mixed-use 161-unit apartment complex. The U-shaped apartment building is slated for 3.5-acre site at 131 S. Fair Oaks Ave. Madison-Kipp Corporation is across Fair Oaks Avenue to the west, and Garver Feed Mill to the east.

The site is currently home to a one-story Kessenich’s Ltd. distribution center, said Michael Thorson, a partner at Inventure Capital LLC, the company leading the development. Kessenich’s is a food service equipment and supply company.

The development would demolish the Kessenich building and bring a mixed-use building with 161 apartment units and around 11,400 square feet of first floor commercial and residential space.

Plans call for a single-floor covered parking structure at grade in the center of the “U”. The covering would have a green roof, possibly providing space for community gardens and a pool.

The apartments will be a mix of studio, one, two and three-bedroom apartments. Thorson said the rent will likely be 25 to 30 percent cheaper than downtown apartments of a similar quality.

“Some people probably feel like they’ve been priced out of the downtown rental market,” he said.

Thorson said the development isn’t primarily aiming at Epic employees, but would appeal to a broad spectrum of renters, including empty nesters, young urban professionals, outdoor enthusiasts and young families.

For that first floor of commercial space, Thorson said the company was considering an “eclectic mix” of tenants.

The property is adjacent to the Capital City State Trail, so possible tenants include a combined coffee and bike shop. Thorson said there would be a bike maintenance and repair area, with a possibility of a public restroom for bike path users.

Other possibilities for tenants include a yoga studio, anchor tenant restaurant, salon or internet technology company.

Inventure Capital, which describes itself as a “boutique investment fund,” will be moving their offices to the property. Thorson said the project may create a co-working space in the building for some of the entrepreneurs in its portfolio.

In the first half of the 1900s, the site had a 10,000-gallon above-ground oil tank on the property, so the soil will need to be remediated, Thorson said.

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City staff submitted comments expressing concerns about the project to the city’s Urban Design Commision (UDC) on Wednesday. They said they felt there was “no precedent for a five-story building in surrounding area.”

While the neighborhood initially expressed concerns about the density, massing and aesthetics of the project, Thorson said the updated design addressed many of these concerns by reducing the size of the building and moving the building back 35 feet, to the benefit of neighbors across Emmet Street to the south.

Thorson said he now believes that after multiple conversations with the neighbors, “we’ve arrived at a design they’re looking to see.”

The UDC was making advisory recommendations to the Plan Commission rather than approving the project, and offered suggestions about building materials and landscaping. There were mixed comments about the five stories, with members saying that their opinions would depend on what other future development is planned in the area.

The project is scheduled to appear before the city’s Plan Commission on Monday. Thorson is hoping to open the project by spring 2019.

Stone House Development has also proposed an 80-unit affordable housing complex at 134 S. Fair Oaks Ave., but the project has not yet received federal tax credits and has faced criticism for its location next to Madison-Kipp. 

Also at Wednesday’s UDC meeting, the design for the proposed development on the corner of Fish Hatchery Road and South Park Street known as “Peloton Residences” was approved. The design has been through multiple iterations and considerable back-and-forth between the neighborhood, developer and the city. It received land use approvals in late August.

“We’ve probably seen that project site more than most anything,” UDC Chair Dick Wagner joked after it was approved.