Griff's, a former burger joint located across the street from Elver Park on Madison's west side, is slated to become a job center. Originally scheduled to open in 2016, the project has stalled again due to a lack of bids to renovate the property.
The job center at 1233 McKenna Blvd. will be called the Park Edge/Park Ridge Employment and Training Center once completed.
The renovation delay doesn’t translate to any delay in programming, said Ald. Barbara Harrington-McKinney, whose district includes the neighborhood. The Urban League of Greater Madison, the operator of the center, has been offering services at a temporary location at 658 S. Gammon Road.
“By the time that physical structure opens in 2018, you’ve already had a very robust population already seeking services and can just move that into the structure,” she said in April.
The center provides teen employment, work readiness and accelerated career academy programs to help people snag jobs in fields like construction, IT, customer service and health care.
The renovated building will host a meeting room kitchen, computer lab and staff area. The project will also replace the siding and roofing on the building.
The city issued a construction Request For Proposal (RFP) to select a contractor for the project, but only received one bid, said Jim O’Keefe, the city’s community development director. The city’s standard operating procedure requires it reopen the bidding process, which now closes on Oct. 6.
A number of contractors had planned to submit bids in the first round, but only one followed through. O’Keefe noted there are many available projects for contractors right now, and this is a smaller project with a budget of around $800,000. O'Keefe and Harrington-McKinney both said the next round of bids is expected to be successful, as several contractors have said they would submit a bid.
O’Keefe said the reopening of the bid would likely delay the opening date of the project by about a month, to the first of June, 2018.
This is not the first time the timeline has been pushed back. Originally, the city planned to have the center running by 2016. O’Keefe said it soon became clear that the project would take more time.
“When we purchased the property, I don’t think anybody really knew what it would take to convert an old restaurant into a center that would provide employment services,” he said. “It probably wasn’t realistic to think that something could be up and running in 2016."
Harrington-McKinney has spoken about the importance of a job center in the area. She said there are many unemployed adults and teens in southwest Madison and the nearest job center is prohibitively far away by bus.