Madison’s Board of Public Works and Safety approved nearly $150,000 in PACE awards at its meeting Tuesday including matching funds for an historically significant house at 707 Walnut Street and the chapel at Springdale Cemetery.
“The first quarter PACE awards will continue the robust trend of neighborhood revitalization,” Madison Mayor Bob Courtney said. “Dilapidated and dangerous properties that have blighted Madison for decades are continuing to be addressed with co-investment from the property owners. Large grants to organizations like Cornerstone and Springdale Cemetery will further our important preservation goals.”
PACE grants were awarded to 11 properties totaling $148,520 based on application scoring and recommendations from the city’s PACE Committee last week.
Four properties were awarded dilapidated structure grants including 707 Walnut Street, owned by the Cornerstone Society, that has been determined to have once been property owned by William Anderson, one of the major underground railroad conductors in Madison and the nation.
According to the PACE application, the project will involve demolition of a non-historic portion of the building in the rear, along with work on building stabilization with the intent to return it to a more appropriate appearance contributing to the Georgetown neighborhood that became the center for the underground railroad activity in Madison.
Debbie Beemon, who lives next door at 709 Walnut St., commented on the application noting that work is not moving fast enough. “My problem is that I see nothing getting done” after being told several months ago that the rehabilitation on the structure was moving forward. “Months have gone by,” she said. “I want to see them actually do something real with that place.”
Courtney countered that he thinks in the last 90 days there has been considerable activity by Cornerstone Society in that it acquired the property, placed a fence around the property to secure the site, and developed plans for rehabilitation. He added that Cornerstone went through the PACE grant process to assist in facilitating the rehabilitation of the property. As part of the PACE process, applications have 90 days to get started and a year to complete work.
“Candidly, that sounds like a lot of progress in 90 days,” Courtney said, noting there is now a plan with each of the property owners that had not existed before. “I wish things would happened a lot quicker a long time ago but we are where we are,” and he’s optimistic that progress is being made.
Beemon responded, “I don’t trust them to do what they say. That’s the bottom line. They can talk and talk and talk, but if you don’t do anything, the talk means nothing.”
Beemon also expressed confusion that a dumpster Cornerstone had brought to the property for cleaning up at 707 Walnut St. is being used for cleaning up 705 Walnut St., a property that was recently brought before the BPWS as an unsafe structure.
Jan Vetrhus, a Cornerstone board of director, said the organization is “very glad to work with” Tirrie Jenkins, president of Madison Christian Health and Developmental Services, to share the dumpster, and another dumpster will soon be placed for additional work for both properties. Because there is limited parking available on the street, Vetrhus said it is hoped the dumpster can be placed behind the property at 705 Walnut St. “We are working very closely to try to help both properties,” she said.
David Carlow, a BPWS board member, commended Cornerstone for its willingness to work with the neighboring Walnut Street property by sharing the dumpsters on two projects taking place next to each other.
Courtney said he’s been pleased with the actions taken recently by Jenkins to address the structure at 705 Walnut St. After holding discussions with the city, a plan was developed and immediate action was taken to start improving that property.
He said the properties at 705 and 707 Walnut Street are in an area that’s targeted by the city for revitalization and that up to eight properties in that two-block area are now going through restoration, along with significant investment in flood mitigation.
“There’s a lot happening on Walnut Street,” said Courtney.
“It’s really positive. It’s going in the right direction. It takes time. It takes lots of money. It takes lots of planning,” Courtney noted. “The city is a partner in all of this, and five years from now that corridor is going to continue to look better and better.”
In other applications, a dilapidated structures grant for $22,500 was awarded to Michael O’Neal Jr. for 128 Mulberry St., the former Scott Industrial Services, which the application notes the structure has collapsed beyond repair with the roof caved in and the floors rotted through.
Nicole M. Schell, the city’s director of planning, said the plan is to demolish and rebuild the structure while maintaining the front brick facade which is still in good condition.
“That’s a fantastic outcome for a property that’s been in that state and condition” for years after being damaged many years ago by a fire. “I’m very happy to see it,” said Courtney.
A $25,000 dilapidated structures grant was also awarded to Springdale Cemetery for restoring the chapel with the work including restoring the stained glass windows and doors.
Additionally, a dilapidated structures grant of $25,000 was approved to Marilyn Hance for 523-525 West Street for tuck pointing, paint, windows, floor joists and doors. Courtney stated those properties have sat deteriorating for a number of years and he’s pleased to see activity on West Street leading to the rehabilitation of those structures.
A $10,000 dangerous structures grant was approved to Ben Doublett for 524 Walnut St., a property that the application states has several broken windows allowing rain water and animals inside.
Carlow asked if the property had been researched for its historical significance in order to prevent a situation similar to what happened at 707 Walnut St., which was slated for demolition until Cornerstone got involved, realized the property’s historic significance and purchased the property.
Vetrhus said 524 Walnut St. has not been researched but because it is a structure in the historic district, Cornerstone will want to investigate it. “We certainly will do our part as volunteers but we look for the city and the official process to be followed,” she said.
Schell said the demolition guidelines provide that documentation on historic structures should include photos, but also states that the extent of documentation is determined on a case-by-case basis. “It does not say who is responsible for that documentation” and does not state that if it’s determined to be an unsafe structure that it has to go through that process, she said.
Amendments were approved for two PACE grants. An award for 1001 West First St., owned by John Bruns, was increased from $22,445 to $25,000 because of more extensive deterioration. Also, an award for 111 East Second St., owned by Matt and Daniel Chandler, which originally had been a $7,500 rehabilitation grant was updated to a dilapidated structure grant of $25,000, given that project’s $1.5 million investment and that it would have been considered dilapidated when it was purchased. The structure is due to open later this year as The Chandler: Madison’s Boutique Hotel.
PACE awards for $7,500 were approved at 217-219 Main St., the former Steinhardt-Hanson building, for repair of windows, doors, fire escape and foundation; 212 East St., the Jefferson County Youth Shelter, for gutter guards and tuck pointing; 223 West First St. for smart siding and replacing a window and gutter; 752 Jefferson St. for window replacement; and 618 East Second St. for tuck pointing and painting. Also, a $3,520 PACE grant was awarded to 308 East Third St. to replace the front door.
Final awards were approved for two PACE projects. Madison Presbyterian Church, at 202 Broadway St., completed work on its 13-foot Costigan doors that were removed and restored for both the exterior pocket doors and the interior French doors. The PACE award was $7,500. The structure at 312 Poplar Street, owned by Carrie Parris, completed exterior siding, door restoration and window replacement with a PACE grant of $7,500.
The next deadline for PACE applications is Feb. 6.
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