Madison’s public market project cleared another hurdle Monday after gaining approval for zoning changes from the Plan Commission.
On Monday, the commission recommended that the City Council rezone the property at 202 N. First St. and create a planned development. These decisions pave the way to transform the current Fleet Services building into the future home of the Madison Public Market.
Dan Kennelly, manager of the city’s Office of Business Resources, said the Plan Commission’s approval is a “milestone” for the project.
“Having the full support from the Plan Commission was a great step,” Kennelly said.
A planned development district will “facilitate the myriad uses envisioned within the public market and on the site, not all of which could easily be accommodated in conventional zoning,” according to a staff report.
The City Council will take up the zoning changes at its March 3 meeting.
For years, city leaders have discussed the possibility of a public market in Madison, envisioning it in several locations. Today, the $13 million project is slated for the corner of North First and East Johnson streets in the city’s Fleet Services building.
The year-round market, which will be operated by the Public Market Foundation, will feature local vendors offering fresh produce, culturally diverse-prepared foods and handcrafted goods. It also aims to be a business incubator and create a platform for entrepreneurs to launch their businesses.
“The core mission of the Madison Public Market is economic development,” according to a letter of intent from Minneapolis-based MSR Design, which is tasked with designing the public market.
The current Fleet Services building is one story, approximately 43,500 square feet, which includes a mezzanine. Once the city relocates Fleet Services to a larger facility currently under construction at 4151 Nakoosa Trail, MSR Design can begin renovating the building.
Existing windows and doors, including eight of the garage doors, will be removed and replaced. New glass panel garage doors will be installed.
The roughly 45,000-square-foot first floor will feature a large hall with tall ceilings, public bathrooms and support spaces. The north hall area will be divided into a variety of different spaces for tenants, while a larger area at the southern end is expected to hold an anchor tenant.
A roughly 6,000-square-foot mezzanine will feature seating for patrons, additional restrooms and views down into the main floor. There will be two elevators and multiple staircases.
A variety of spaces is expected to be available for future market vendors — to be determined later this year by the Public Market Foundation — including permanent vending stalls, shared stalls and temporary vendor space.
As of the end of January, Kennelly said there are 30 entrepreneurs in the city’s MarketReady Program, which aims to prepare local business owners to launch in the market. Kennelly said about 220 other businesses have expressed interest in operating there.
Outside of the market, plans for a large outdoor patio area are expected. The project also calls for 113 car parking spaces and 90 stalls for bicycles. At the meeting, commissioners approved an amendment to add four electric charging stations and create covered parking for some of the bicycle stalls.
Commissioner Bradley Cantrell urged the city to consider additional options for parking, so public market visitors do not burden the surrounding residential streets.
“I would hate to impact the neighborhood with parking for this use,” Cantrell said.
Despite the “challenge” of parking, Cantrell said the site demonstrates a “great reuse of a public building.”
“The city has been absent of a public market for many, many years, and I think that this will serve a great start for that use,” Cantrell said.
In other necessary steps, the project received initial approval from the Urban Design Commission Feb. 12. The commission recommended changes to landscape plantings and offered feedback on some types of materials used in the project.
In addition to final UDC approval, the public market project will need to gain other financial approvals, including a future tax increment district amendment, a contribution from the Public Market Foundation and New Markets Tax Credits.
Once the project receives approvals and secures financing, the city expects to start construction in late 2020 and open in late 2021.
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