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Window pains head to council

Landmark commission denies saloon window renovation, owner appeals

By Nick Wood
– The owner of a historic building on the corner of Broadway and Dousman Street in downtown Green Bay has appealed the Nov. 16 decision of the Landmarks Commission to deny his request to replace street-level saloon windows with storefront windows.

Building owner Garritt Bader of BFAM, LLC in Green Bay said he received official notice of the denial Monday morning and appealed the decision the same day.

“I’m appealing because the Common Council has the final say and the right to overrule the commission,” Bader said.

The appeal now goes to the full council, but the date has not been finalized. The next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Dec. 6, but there is a staff conflict with that date, according to Stephanie Hummel, city planner.

Last month, after approving four of the five components of the renovation pertaining to remodeling the second floor facade and south annex of the building at 240 N. Broadway, the commission tabled owner Garritt Bader’s fifth request to remodel the first floor facade with modern storefront windows.

When it reconvened last week, the commission agreed to allow most components of that fifth request, including replacement of existing large windows facing Broadway and Dousman with a more modern facade.

But it held fast against a critical component of Bader’s overall plan — replacing three small but historically significant saloon windows on the northwest corner of the building — which was essentially denied for lack of a motion.

Bader told the commission last month that denying half of the update to the first floor Broadway-facing side of the building would not be harmonious with the rest of the project.

According to Jason Flatt, the commission’s engineer and historian, the building was constructed in 1909 by Felix DuChateau as a saloon, and three small windows are a character-defining feature of the building.

“Those windows are up high enough such that you can’t see in — you can’t see who’s in there drinking or what they’re up to — but it lets in light,” Flatt told the commission last month.

The commission is directed to approve renovation requests unless they would “detrimentally change, destroy or adversely affect any exterior feature” of a designated historic structure.

The building is part of the Broadway-Dousman Historic District and was placed on the state and national registers of historic places in 1999.

While Bader said he appreciated the commission’s intent to preserve the past, the future of the building depends on attracting essentially high-rent tenants to make the expense of saving it worthwhile.

He said the building is in rough shape now because it had not been able to generate enough revenue for the past 40 years to keep it viable.

“I wish this commission would not look at these windows as trying to save a moment in time for a long-past operation and look at more of what we’re trying to do today, what we’re trying to do for Broadway, what we’re trying to do for downtown, and that adding more windows is really a way of truly saving this structure for another 100 years.”

Commission member David Siegel said those same arguments could apply to most of the requests he’s seen on the commission and an exception would be precedent-setting.

“Every applicant from now on is going to have a substantial argument to do the same,” Siegel said.

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