The historic Rubin’s Furniture Downtown building will be transformed into a hotel | local government

A leading hotelier wants to transform the historic downtown Rubin’s Furniture store building, located in the 300 block of East Wilson Street, into a hotel with retail space and a rooftop patio overlooking Monona Lake.

North Central Group, of Middleton, which owns and operates more than 30 properties in multiple states, is proposing to repurpose the historic four-story building at 317 E. Wilson St. and a new two-story building at 323 E. Wilson St.. , both now used by Rubin’s Furniture, for the 45-room “Wilson Street Hotel”, according to plans submitted to the city.

The independent extended-stay hotel would offer a mix of studio and one- and two-bedroom units, spacious accommodations showcasing the existing historic warehouse structure and finishes, a rooftop patio above the two-story building for guest use, first-floor retail space along East Wilson Street, and a gym and laundry room, according to plans.

The development team could not be reached.

“I have mixed emotions,” Ald said. Mike Verveer, whose 4th district includes the site. “I mourn the loss of a long-standing downtown institution. The majority of the furniture in my home comes from the Rubin’s Downtown showroom. On the other hand, I’m thrilled that this historic building is experiencing a new life as adaptive reuse development.”

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The proposed hotel is also a great sign that downtown remains attractive to hoteliers despite the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the hospitality industry, Verveer said.

Rubin’s, which has offered home furnishings to downtown and then other locations since 1918, currently has retail stores at 317 E. Wilson St. and 670 S. Whitney Way.

The company, however, has moved beyond its downtown location and is turning part of its distribution center at 2300 Badger Lane off the Beltline into showroom space, Bob Rubin said. There will be more than 50,000 square feet of showroom at the Badger Lane site, 30% more than the downtown location, as well as more than 80 parking spaces, he said.

Ben Rubin started the furniture business around 1918 in the 300 block of East Wilson Street, across from the current building. Around 1932, the family opened a store on King Street, calling it Badger Furniture. Bob Rubin took over the business in the late 1970s and moved the operation to 317 E. Wilson St. and changed the name to Rubin’s.

The North Central Group would bring modern style to a two-story building at 323 E. Wilson St., left, and retain the historic character of the adjacent four-story Rubin’s Furniture building at 317 E. Wilson St. to create the Wilson Hotel of street.

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The building at 317 E. Wilson St., built in the Classical/Craftsman Revival style, was designed by Madison architect Alvan Small and completed in 1907. It is valued at $1.12 million. The building currently does not have an official historic designation, but the downtown preservation plan lists it as a potential landmark and eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, said Heather Bailey, the city’s preservation planner. .

It is the only building in Madison that was built for a leather goods company, according to city records. It was built for Charles Hoebel, who was president of the Madison Saddlery Company, manufacturers of all types of harnesses and wholesalers of saddlery hardware, blankets, fur goods, saddles, whips, etc. The company closed in 1930, a victim of the automobile and tractor boom, records show.

The structure at 323 E. Wilson St., built in 1973 and valued at $775,000, does not appear in the city’s historic preservation records, Bailey said.

Developers are claiming historic tax credits for the four-story masonry building, and the renovation of this structure will be further investigated by the Wisconsin Historical Society and the National Parks Service, the North Central Group’s submission says.

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“This structure retains much of its historic materials and is part of the character of downtown, which is an important factor when considering maintaining our sense of place while allowing Madison to grow,” Bailey said. . “This building has a lot of potential to be integrated into a redevelopment of the site. The rehabilitation and sensitive evolution of a property is at the heart of the work that the conservators do today.”

The exterior renovation of the existing buildings will primarily be for the smaller two-story structure, the submission states.

The concept is that the two-story facade does not compete with or attempt to replicate the adjacent historic structure, with the use of neutral colors on the two-story building intended to allow the adjacent red brick facades to shine and stay the star of the show. along East Wilson Street, he said.

Verveer is planning an online neighborhood meeting at 7 p.m. on March 3. North Central Group is seeking initial and final project approvals from the Urban Design Commission at its March 9 meeting. The proposal will be subject to staff reviews, but no further City Committee or City Council approval is required, he said.

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