If you haven’t yet read Save Madison Theatre’s request for reconsideration (based on town emails), you can do so here: SMT’s Request for Reconsideration
While the HPC’s rejection of our request centered around the town machinations that the emails reveal, the more important point was that there is an offer on the table that would keep the building existing and used for it’s intended purpose: A Movie Theater.
The developer’s argument for demolition were:
- No one is interested in running the movie theater
- No one was interested in the building
- Movies are dead
- The new building would be good for the town economy
- The building is in bad shape
The emails show that from far before the meetings even started the developer’s new points 1 through 4 were moot.
- There was interest in running the movie theater
- There was an interested buyer whom the developer had an agreement with in case they couldn’t build their planned building
- The potential owners were confident they could have a viable business
- The new theater would bring many many people into Madison each day, providing a huge economic boost, far beyond would could be created by 24 apartments
In the end the only argument that was valid is that the building is in bad shape, only the extent of needed repairs was in question. All testimony about the building structure noted that the building was in no threat of falling. And the fact that there is an interested buyer points out that there was belief that it was economically feasible for a private entity to maintain and run the theater.
If all these facts were part of the discussion from the get go perhaps HPC’s vote would have been different, even with all the recusals and resignations that were part of the process (see the 5th meetings video for that drama).
The historic preservation committee is charged to first make sure it is economically feasible to save the structure AND make sure it is used for its intended use. It was and is.