Frustrated by the slow progress in completing plans for an $18 million development on Madison’s South Side, officials are recommending the city seek new proposals if disagreements over plans for the project can’t be worked out soon.
The Madison City Council would need to approve the recommendation at one of its May meetings, giving developer Welton Enterprises and the city about a month to reach an agreement on the 3.5-acre vacant lot on South Park Street.
A new request for proposals would give developers 90 days to submit proposals for the site.
Truman Olson Selection Committee member and Ald. Sheri Carter, whose 14th District nearly borders the potential development, said Wednesday that a request from Welton for more time to develop its year-old proposal was “a disservice to the committee,” and she supported seeking new proposals.
Welton Enterprises is now proposing a 30,000-square-foot grocery and a separate four-story building with 52 mixed-income housing units.
Welton wants to turn the lot where the Truman Olson U.S. Army Reserve Center once stood into a development that would include housing and a grocery store.
But city staff have said the proposal doesn’t meet some design standards and requires too much public money. Even after continued talks, the developer and city haven’t agreed on terms such as how much tax incremental financing the developer should receive.
Welton is seeking about $775,000 in TIF, with the city wanting to give the company only up to half of that, said Dan Rolfs, a community development project manager for the city’s Office of Real Estate Services.
“We’re still in about the same place we were,” Rolfs said. “The financial part of it has not really changed.”
But city officials and neighborhood residents remain concerned about a time gap between the demolition of a Pick N' Save grocery for the project and construction of a new one by a different developer on an adjacent site.
But the developer did agree to add some usable second-floor space to meet Urban Design District standards.
Welton vice president Paul Molinaro said that would make the project more expensive and increase rent costs for the grocer that has expressed interest in becoming a tenant. He said Welton is waiting to hear if that grocer still is interested in being part of the project.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Molinaro asked the committee for a 30- or 60-day extension to continue negotiating with city officials.
After the committee approved the recommendation to potentially seek new requests, Molinaro said the company will continue to negotiate with city officials. He said he understands the committee’s commitment to selecting a responsible development for “a very important piece of real estate.”
“We’re going to continue to work on it,” he said. “We want the right thing to be done for the neighborhood. ... We think we can do that.”
If the two sides can’t resolve their differences, Molinaro said Welton would again submit plans for the site if the City Council issues a new request for proposals.
One of the projects includes housing and a grocery store, while the other involves a $75 million medical clinic.
“We’ve put a lot of work and time into it,” he said. “We would definitely continue to pursue it.”
Welton’s proposal includes a 30,000-square-foot grocery store facing South Park Street with parking spaces and a four-story building at the rear of the lot with 52 units of mixed-income housing and more parking, half of it underground, on the vacant lot.
Under a second plan from another developer that the city is also expected to take up, an existing Pick ‘n Save grocery store next to the site would be demolished and replaced with a medical clinic.
That plan has drawn concern from area residents, who would be left without a grocery store in the area while the Welton project is completed.