MADISON (WKOW) — City officials have confirmed that the owners of the building at 131 W. Wilson Street in downtown Madison plan to submit an application to demolish the building. Meanwhile, developers are already planning to replace the lakeside property with a new 14-story skyscraper.
The building currently houses several offices and the Italian restaurant, Paisan’s, which has been a Madison staple for over 70 years.
The building has been in the spotlight since September, when tenants were suddenly evicted by city officials over “structural concerns” that had been overlooked for years by building owners.
Since then, the building has been reopened, closed and reopened again.
Paisan owner Wally Borowski says the latest development is a heartbreaking end to an already exhausting experience.
“It’s terrible,” Borowski said. “We have invested a lot of money to come here, a lot of heart and soul. We have a lot of people, current and former staff, who come here, have worked their best and poured their souls into this place. “
Borowski said he discovered the building was being demolished through a third party, who forwarded him an email from the city regarding the building owners’ request for demolition. On Monday, Borowski said the owners of the building had still not contacted him about their plans to demolish the building.
He and other Paisan workers took over five years to settle in their current location and still have an active lease with over 20 years remaining. Now they are scrambling to find a new home for the restaurant.
“We spent a lot of time figuring out what our next move was before we got to 131 West Wilson,” Borowski said. “And now we’re going to have to try to do the same thing in 90 days. You know that’s not happening.”
In his application for a demolition permit, the building’s owner, Greg Rice, said the building had “exceeded its useful life and needed to be demolished”.
In a notice from the city, a Rice spokesperson said they plan to formally request demolition by May 16. In this way, the demolition plans can be finalized during the meeting of the Planning Commission on June 27.
Rice did not respond to 27 News’ requests for comment.
Meanwhile, plans are already underway for what will replace the current building.
Architect Kirk Keller of Plunkett Raysich Architects is leading the main design phase of the project. His plan would allow for the construction of a 14-story high-rise house that would be both commercial and residential.
Keller presented his sketches of the new building for the first time to residents and neighborhood officials on Bassett Street on Monday night.
Borowski says the new plans along with the demolition request look like the final nail in his restaurant’s coffin.
“It’s basically like a done deal, and it’s terrible,” Borowski said.