South Livingston Street Garage

Arts + Literature Laboratory may move into the commercial space that was constructed along with the South Livingston Street parking garage, 111 S. Livingston St., which opened in December.

A nonprofit focused on the education and development of visual, literary and performing arts may be moving into a Near East Side facility in an area that has lost many arts businesses and studios to closures.

The city is looking to lease commercial space adjacent to the South Livingston Street parking garage, 111 S. Livingston St., to Arts + Literature Laboratory, or ALL, and give the organization a $500,000 grant, according to city documents. ALL will then make rent payments to the city, which the city will use to replenish its Capital Revolving Fund for the amount of the grant, making it effectively a loan.

ALL has been in its current space, 2021 Winnebago St., for about four years hosting workshops, readings, art galleries and more. If the agreement is approved by the City Council, ALL would offer the same programming, as well as expanded gallery and performance spaces and dedicated private and shared studios, according to a memo from the city’s Economic Development Division staff to the council.

“Community support is essential for artists to thrive, and art is essential for communities to thrive,” ALL literary arts director Rita Mae Reese said. “With this new, much larger space, Arts + Literature Laboratory will fulfill its promise to make the arts more available to everyone and to strengthen the creative economy for decades to come.”

Madison’s City Council had decided to pursue leasing the space to ALL at the end of 2017, authorizing staff to negotiate the agreement that the council’s committees will vote on before it goes before the full council Sept. 17.

Madison arts program administrator Karin Wolf said the neighborhoods on the Isthmus have historically been supportive of artists, but several spaces dedicated to arts and artists have closed in the past few years. Wolf, who also sits on the Madison Arts Commission, which will consider the lease agreement, said having an organization like ALL on the Near East Side would help support artists who already call that area home.

“This area of the Isthmus … is gentrifying very rapidly,” Wolf said. “It’s important that the city stabilize the ecology.”

Wolf said she’s hopeful that the agreement will secure approval and that the community will also support ALL’s move.

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When the city of Madison finished construction on the South Livingston Street parking garage, it had left the adjacent 9,910-square-foot commercial space primarily unfinished to allow a future organization to build out the space to its needs.

If approved by the City Council, ALL would lease the property for a 20-year term and receive $500,000, which would be repaid through the monthly lease payments over several years. Payments would start at $4,900 per month and increase to $10,114 by the end of the lease.

Public parking garage on Madison's Near East Side opens

ALL would also have the option of renewing its lease for five-year terms if it is still in good standing under the lease’s terms.

The parking garage, which includes about 650 parking stalls on five stories, opened in December. It has been touted as a way to relieve parking congestion for the event-laden Tenny-Lapham and Marquette neighborhoods.

Before beginning construction, ALL’s plans for the space would require city approval.

Several committees will vote on the lease agreement, including:

  • Finance Committee on Monday at 4:30 p.m. in the Madison Municipal Building, 215 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Room 215.
  • Transportation Commission on Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the Municipal Building, Room 206.
  • Madison Arts Commission on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building, Room 013.
  • Community Development Authority on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building, Room 153.

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that the $500,000 gift from the city is a grant, but that ALL will make rent payments to the city, which the city will use to replenish its Capital Revolving Fund for the amount of the grant.] 

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