Despite market uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a developer is moving forward with the final piece of the $36 million-plus Yahara Commons project along the Yahara River which when completed will be the biggest in the city of Monona in two decades.
The Galway Cos. has secured final approvals and will begin construction next month on a five-story building with 145 apartments, rooftop pool and terrace, and two levels of underground parking with 283 spaces that will be shared with the city to serve a 0.6-acre park that’s part of the city’s contribution to the overall, three-phase redevelopment.
The 7.4-acre site is bounded by Bridge Road, West Broadway and the Yahara River.
“It will mean a great deal to the city and the overall community to have this project completed,” city administrator Bryan Gadow said. “It represents a significant investment in the community’s economic future, as the properties are expected to generate at least $36.7 million, likely significantly more, in taxable value for the properties in the development. This will have a significant positive impact on the city of Monona, the Monona Grove School District, and Dane County.”
The first phase of the redevelopment, called The Current, which opened last summer, is a five-story, mixed-use building with 96 apartments and 30,000 square feet of commercial space with offices, restaurants and a city-owned and operated ice cream shop and winter skate rental at Grand Crossing Park, which features a small ice rink in the winter, and a stage and seating area, grassy lawn and other amenities for warmer weather.
That building includes the waterfront Buck and Honey’s bar and restaurant, Forage Kitchen, True Coffee and The Tasting Room, along with the concession/ice cream shop called “Below Deck” next to the park. The building has 105 surface and 135 underground parking stalls.
The next phase — the Avid Hotel, a 92-room, mid-scale, limited-service hotel by Intercontinental Hotel Group and Kinseth Hospitality with 92 surface parking spaces — opened late last year.
The initial phases turned out “awesome” and revealed considerable pent-up demand for development in Monona, Galway principal Steve Doran said.
“The first two phases of the project have worked out nicely,” Gadow agreed. “The Current building opened last summer, and the visitorship to various restaurants and businesses has been phenomenal. The Avid Hotel opened in November of 2019. Like all businesses, there has been an impact by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of overall usage.
“The vision for this development is for it to be an urban waterfront destination that serves as a year-round gather place and recreational trailhead, focused on active healthy lifestyles, in a village-like setting,” he said.
Monona began planning for a major redevelopment project in the area in 2012. From late 2012 to 2017, the city worked with the public, various city committees and consultants to complete preliminary studies, and created a Redevelopment Area and Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) district. Also, the city contracted to complete demolition of existing buildings and partnered with Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District to relocate a 60-inch diameter septic sewer line.
In August 2017, the city signed a master development agreement with Galway for the three-phase project.
The city has invested about $16.8 million in the redevelopment, which covers land acquisitions, demolition costs, roadway and park improvements, sewer infrastructure and developer incentives, with investments paid back over the life of the TIF district through property taxes generated by the projects, Gadow said.
“As Monona is a landlocked community, our opportunities for economic development come as the result of redevelopment of existing properties,” he said. “The Yahara Commons project has the potential to be a real destination location for Monona by providing a mixture of housing opportunities, retail and recreation.”
Galway intends to begin construction on July 1 and complete the final phase in September 2021, Doran said.