Historic Rubin’s furniture store may become boutique hotel

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – A fixture of downtown Madison is moving out of its historic location and a boutique hotel could be moving in.

North Central Group, a property developer out of Middleton, sees the Rubin’s furniture store on E. Wilson St. as a prime location for a new hotel. The historic, red brick building is a short walk from the capitol and offers views overlooking Lake Monona. For Rubin’s, the more than 90-year-old family owned and operated business, the move is bittersweet, but the family sees it as a win for everyone.

“We’ve outgrown this location many years ago,” said Bob Rubin, whose grandfather came to Madison from Russia and opened the first Rubin’s Furniture. “We finally made the decision that now is the time to do it.”

The family says that as business continues to grow, the space isn’t working for them anymore. Stories of stairs to climb, trouble heating and cooling and limited parking are some of the issues they’ve been running into.

“I’ve been told a long time ago that you should only love things that can love you back and buildings is not one of them that loved me back.,” Bob said.

It’s why a few years ago he set the move in motion, working with a realtor to plan ahead. The official proposal was made to the city in early February. The developer is proposing a redevelopment of the three buildings on the property into an Independent Extended Stay Hotel Property — The Wilson Street Hotel. The exterior of the historic red brick building will largely be kept as-is; the exterior renovation will mainly concern the small, 2-story building attached to Rubin’s, according to the proposal.

Project design highlights include 45 total guestrooms, rooftop patio and retail space.

North Central Group could not be reached for comment.

“Our building’s location will be an excellent location for people to access the restaurants on State Street the Capital Square and everything around it,” said Judi Rubin, Bob’s wife.

Rob Gard with Destination Madison did not want to comment on the Rubin’s furniture renovation, but said he is not surprised developers are interested in the downtown area, despite the pandemic.

“Madison is a very attractive place for… people looking to develop different types of properties that could be interesting and connect with that fun, quirky, funky Madison vibe,” Gard said. Destination Madison is proud to support local businesses, including hotels, he said. The “Madison Minication” campaign is currently underway and encourages locals to book getaways in their backyard.

Rubin’s business is not leaving Madison, however. The Rubin’s West location on Whitney Way is still in use and the family is excited for the remodel of their distribution center off the Beltline. Bob and Judi say the remodel will add to the one-story building with a new design center and plenty of parking for clients.

They expect to be out of the E Wilson St. location by the end of Summer 2022.

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