The city of Madison will host a series of virtual public meetings over the next two months to develop new plans for areas around East Towne and West Towne malls.
The eight meetings held by the Planning Division will be used to gather community input. The public can either join by phone or online to participate.
Planning meetings such as these would typically be held in person but were moved online amid the COVID-19 pandemic and Wisconsin’s stay-at-home orders, urban design planner Rebecca Cnare said. The funds that would have been used for food and refreshments will instead be used for prizes for attendees, such as gift cards to grocery stores or local restaurants, Cnare said.
“We know that we need to keep moving forward with these plans, maybe now more than ever,” Cnare said. “We need to figure out what’s important to residents and what people want in terms of their city — especially in times of change, in times of economic uncertainty.”
During the meetings, set for 12:15 p.m. on Mondays and 5:15 p.m. on Thursdays with performances by musician Angela Puerta 15 minutes prior, planning staff will ask for desired goals. That input will be used to form the plans, which will guide zoning policy, development approvals and infrastructure budgeting for years to come.
With continual changes to brick-and-mortar retail, the areas around the malls were identified as places that could be targeted for urban development, Cnare said.
“Our city is growing really fast,” she said. “We want to look at where those people can live without sprawl.”
The Greater East Towne Mall Area Plan is bounded by Mendota Street to the west to Interstate 39-90 to the east and East Washington Avenue and Dwight Drive to the north and railroad tracks to the south.
The Odana Area Plan is bounded by the Beltline to the west and south, Segoe Road to the east and Mineral Point Road to the north. It includes West Towne Mall, Westgate Mall and University Research Park.
While the planning areas are on opposite sides of Madison, Cnare said the Planning Division wanted to work on both plans at the same time.
“Even though it’s a lot more work, we thought we might do them at the same time because some of the challenges are the same,” she said.
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