Developer outlines proposal for new 14-story structure if current building home to Paisan’s is demolished

MADISON, Wis. — A developer on Monday showed downtown residents a proposal to reimagine the site currently home to a multi-story building home to Paisan’s Italian Restaurant if a request to demolish the existing building — which has been plagued with structural issues in recent months — moves forward.

During a virtual meeting Monday night, architect Kirk Keller outlined a proposed 14-story building built to the Capitol View Preservation Limit. It would include underground parking, commercial space on the first two floors, residential space on floors three through 14 and outdoor open space in front of the building along West Wilson Street.

“We are looking at quite a mix of units, everything from what I would call a real traditional studio unit all the way up to three bedrooms,” he said.

The proposal, he stressed, is still in the early stages.

“I’m not here to show you a rendering of the building; we haven’t designed a building. We are looking at how you work with the neighborhood, how you work with Wilson Street, how you work with the skyline of Madison,” he told attendees of the monthly meeting for residents of the Bassett neighborhood.

The current building at 131 West Wilson Street first made headlines in September when it was evacuated and shut down over concerns about its structural stability. 

RELATED: City of Madison closes building that holds Paisan’s Restaurant due to structural concerns

Three months later, it was shut down again after its owner, Rice Investments, didn’t make payments for required safety inspections. 

Last week, Rice Investments submitted a notice of intent to tear down the building. 

RELATED: Owner of property housing Paisan’s restaurant submits notice to tear down building

Wally Borowski, the co-owner of Paisan’s, said he is beyond disappointed by that decision. 

“We don’t know what’s going to happen, and I don’t think it’s right. Not at all. Not one little bit,” he said. “I can’t say that (Rice has) shared anything with us other than he wants to sell it and I guess they want to tear it down.”

Last week, city inspector Matt Tucker, confirmed the notice of intent to demolish 131 West Wilson Street. Tucker added that there is no guarantee that demolition will be granted. 

Borowski hopes that whatever happens with the building, it doesn’t close the restaurant’s longtime home.

“To me, it’s more than just this business. It’s a family that we are a part of,” he said.