Dave Reid

Sydney Hih Nomination Held at Historic Preservation

By - Sep 30th, 2008 03:38 pm
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Sydney Hih

Sydney Hih

This Historic Preservation Commission (“HPC”) meeting included agenda items for the high profile projects, The Palomar, The Brewery and the Goll Mansion redevelopment.

Original plans for the Palomar project involved the redevelopment of the Sydney Hih building as part of a new Kimpton Hotel. Over time these plans have changed and now Gatehouse Capitol and Ruvin Development intend to demolish the buildings to a develop new a 22-story building.

Milwaukee resident, David Somerscales, nominated the Sydney Hih building for an interim historic designation that would last 180 days and would give time to determine if this building should be permanently protected. An extended presentation was giving connecting the building to a Dr. Nicholas Senn. Dr. Senn had been a fairly well known doctor who made many medical advances in the late 1800’s. This was relevant because one of the criteria for the nomination of a building is connection with a historical figure. Additionally it was presented that during the 1970’s it became the home to the counter culture, prompting Alderman Bob Bauman to remark that it’s “almost an iconic building of the counter culture”.

There was some questioning regarding the motivations behind the people supporting this historic designation because of their potential ties to the union, UNITE HERE, which is currently negotiating with the developer to insure union workers are employed in the hotel once it is completed. This came to light as Alderman Bauman questioned the occupation of many speakers and he made his feelings clear stating that “I’m also concerned this is another example of the historic preservation process being abused”. Despite that belief and efforts by the development team to show how this building doesn’t qualify for protection, Alderman Bauman went on to say that “it may be moot what the motivation is” indicating his belief that the Sydney Hih building might be a good candidate for historic preservation regardless of motives. This item was held and will be brought back up and the next Historic Preservation Commission meeting.

The Brewery project was requesting a change in the material for a pedestrian walk way that runs along a pocket park and behind some buildings. Mike Mervis, assistant to Zilber Chairman Joseph Zilber, was proposing the project use a colored and scored concrete instead of the salvaged pavers as originally planned. Alderman Bauman was upset over this downgrading and suggested that if a trade-off is to be made that the park should be cut back on as once the sidewalks are paved it isn’t likely they’ll ever be redone with the pavers. Alderman Bauman went on to suggest that “the park can be enhanced incrementally over time”. The meeting became pretty heated when Mike Mervis fired back that “I’m not willing to cut the quality of the park”. It was suggested that the developer at least use the pavers along the park section and not all of the pathway which finally found agreement by both parties.

New Land Enterprises was scheduled to present minor changes to the parking structure of its proposed 26-story tower located behind the Goll Mansion. The changes included using a colored concrete behind the green-screen and adjusting the pattern of the green-screen to mimic that of windows to provide some articulation and so that during the winter the building would appear better than concrete block. Despite that these changes had been worked out with city staff, no action was taken on this item because the meeting had ended abruptly as there was no longer a quorum of commission members.

Categories: Real Estate

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