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With the proposed addition of a hotel on the same site as the city’s public market, Mayra Medrano envisions a revitalizing campus that can engage residents and visitors alike.

Medrano is the president of the Public Market Foundation, the operator of the city's future public market, and supports newly proposed site plans for the property at the corner of East Washington Avenue and First Street. New plans include a hotel, residential units and commercial space to be built by a private developer.

“It’s really an incubator,” Medrano said. “That’s why it’s crucial to have public and private projects that really encompass each other.”

The year-round, indoor public market plans to host tenants selling homegrown food from small-scale farmers, specialty gifts, wholesale opportunities and culturally diverse food.

Developers Todd Waller and Steve Doran own the Washington Plaza shopping center, which is marked by East Washington Avenue, North First Street and Burr Jones Park. Their plans to build a hotel, 100 residential units and commercial would flip the previous site plan for the Public Market.

Conceptual site plans would now locate the market closer to Burr Jones Field, the bike path and the Yahara River.

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Public Market site plan

Madison's Public Market is slated for the current Washington Plaza property marked by East Washington Avenue, North First Street and Burr Jones Park.

“The (Public Market Development Committee) was really interested in seeing the Public Market have a presence on Burr Jones Park,” Dan Kennelly, manager of the city’s Office of Business Resources, said. 

With the proposed site plan, the Public Market would be a “proud, visible presence on the park,” Kennelly said.

He also said the proximity to a multi-use development could benefit the Public Market.

“Having more people and activities in the area is good for the market,” Kennelly said. “It does create a sort of Public Market campus with both public and private uses that will be synergistic.”

The plans would also change the dimensions of the market to allow for a long, hall corridor, similar to the Boston public market and provide closer access to nearby parking. The previous plans called for costly underground parking.

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Madison's City Council will vote on a request for an architecture and engineering firm to develop the final design plans. Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, said the new site plans are less complicated and hopes they will be less expensive without the underground parking. 

"I feel like we’re moving forward, and I’m excited," Rummel said. 

Noting The Marling apartment complex across the street, Rummel said the corner of East Washington Avenue is "coming into its own." 

Armed with conceptual site plans, Medrano said it is easier for Madison residents, and possible donors, to envision what the market could look like. She declined to say how much of the $3 to $5 million goal has been raised so far.

Kennelly said the market is expected to break ground in the summer of 2019 and open in 2020, though he acknowledged starting work next year is an “aggressive timeline.” Currently, 30 possible Public Market vendors are receiving training through the MarketReady program.

The city has committed $7.5 million to the project with the remaining cost of the project to be funded with $4 million from fundraising and $3 million in federal New Market Tax credits.

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.