Despite concern about a lack of progress, Madison is sticking with its chosen team for a $19.8 million redevelopment of the landmark Garver Feed Mill on the East Side but setting a timeline with construction now delayed until at least late 2016.
In April 2015, the city chose Baum Development from among four suitors to redevelop crumbling Garver and its surrounding 5 acres into an artisan food production facility with “microlodging” units averaging 250 square feet for short-term rental.
Baum has completed some tasks, but city staff contend there many more key milestones ahead.
On Monday, the city’s Board of Estimates accepted a staff report with deadlines for remaining milestones, including letters of intent from tenants representing half the space by June 1; land use approvals by June 19; a construction contract by July 31, receipt of federal New Market Tax Credits by Aug. 31; and proof of remaining financing six days after receipt of those tax credits.
“Staff remains concerned about the viability of the Garver building,” the report says. “Under this timeline, the earliest that construction would commence is late 2016.”
The Board of Estimates, which discussed the matter in closed session and returned only briefly in open session to record a vote, asked staff to provide an update on April 11. The board asked staff to report earlier if there are any other issues.
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Baum representatives didn’t speak at the meeting, but sent a memo on Jan. 8 summarizing activities in the past month, including signed letters of intent from tenants who would use 78 percent of the usable production space, jobs projections, adding a New Markets Tax Credits specialist to its team, securing a caterer and more.
“The project depends on tax credits,” Ald. Marsha Rummel, 6th District, who represents the site said afterward. “It’s taking longer than we want.”
Ald. David Ahrens, who represents the nearby 15th District, took a dimmer view. “A year after a developer was chosen and we’re not at step two,” he said. “I think they’ve played us, and played us, and played us.”
The two-story, Industrial Romanesque feed mill, 109 S. Fair Oaks Ave., was built in 1905, named a city landmark in 1994 and declared surplus property in 2005.
Four teams — Baum, Alternative Continuum of Care, the Alexander Co. and Ogden & Co.— responded to a city request for proposals to reuse Garver, each offering unique uses and costs ranging from $19.8 million to $39.8 million. The city pledged $1.82 million to the chosen developer.
The city chose Baum with a second choice of Alternative Continuum of Care’s $39.8 million proposal, which delivered 148 units of senior housing, event space, day care, a commercial kitchen and other uses.