Major changes are being proposed for the site plan of Madison Public Market development, including the possible addition of a hotel to the East Side property.
The revised layout of the public-private project — slated for the land bounded by East Washington Avenue, North First Street and Burr Jones Park — flips the location on the site of the city-owned Public Market and the private elements of the development.
Developers Todd Waller and Steve Doran, who own the Washington Plaza shopping center, which currently occupies the property, are now considering a hotel, along with residential units and commercial space, to be situated at the intersection of East Washington Avenue and North First Street.
The Public Market would then be adjacent to Burr Jones Park on the western side of the lot.
The change reverses the vision of a previous site plan.
Last year, members of the city’s Public Market Development Committee expressed displeasure at a site plan that had the public and private buildings in the opposite locations as they are currently sited. Committee members had previously seen a conceptual layout with the public and private portions where they are now again being proposed.
“You got the wrong end of the ham,” committee member Topf Wells said at the time.
Committee member Mayra Medrano said the committee wanted the market to be next to Burr Jones Park so the green space could be used for events or for visitors to relax, acting sort of as the “backyard” of the market.
Burr Jones Park would also provide easy access to the market for bicyclists on the Yahara River Bike Path and for paddlers traveling the river between Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, she said.
Committee member Tim Gruber had originally preferred the placement of the market on the street corner, but said that after discussion Thursday he came around to the site plan.
Gruber and other members said the committee will need to find ways to increase visibility of the market. Member Barry Orton said the several-story building that’s part of the private development could overshadow the smaller market.
“I’m a little concerned that the private development is kind of hiding the public market for people coming (toward Downtown) on East Wash,” committee member Donale Richards said.
Parking and traffic were also discussed as issues needing future discussion.
The private developers listened to the feedback from the committee and other stakeholders in revising the site plan, said Dan Kennelly, manager of the city’s Office of Business Resources. The renderings provided to the committee were commissioned by the private developers, he said.
“The Public Market has to be successful in our eyes,” said Waller, one of the developers. “That’s what drives our project. If the market’s not successful, then we’re not successful.”
“I think it’s really, really positive” that they listened to committee concerns, committee member Adam Haen said.
Overall, Medrano said she’s pleased with the new layout.
“We have a hotel. We have multi-family. We have other retail space and commercial space, so it’s really a campus of economic development,” Medrano said of the site plan.
The general concept of the market remains the same.
It is envisioned to provide permanent stalls for vendors and a few larger spaces for anchor tenants within a high-ceiling room that will let new businesses and entrepreneurs sell their food, crafts, jewelry and other goods without the risk of starting out with an entire storefront.
Parking for the market is planned to be entirely on surface lots, Kennelly said, which is a change from a former proposal for a shared underground lot below the market.
On the private side, the potential for a hotel is new to the project.
The developers are in talks with a group that sees the property as a good location for a hotel, due to its proximity to Breese Stevens Field and the under-construction Sylvee concert venue further west on East Washington Avenue, the ease of access to the airport, and the atmosphere the market could produce, Waller said.
“The attributes of the offerings on site are going to lend itself well to being a place that people are going to want to be and want to stay,” he said.
But Waller added that no commitments have been made about a hotel, saying that the rising cost of construction will have a “pretty huge impact on our private portion.”
“We need to evaluate and be flexible as time proceeds, and the (development) market will tell us what needs to happen,” he said.
Madison officials and the developers first need to work on an agreement where the city could purchase a portion of the land from Waller and Doran.
The Madison Public Market Foundation — a nonprofit formed to be the private capital raising arm for the project — was selected to operate the market earlier this year.
The city and the foundation are now working on an operating agreement that will cover staffing, rules for vendors, programming in the market and other topics.
Along with sitting on the city’s committee, Medrano is the president of the foundation’s board of directors. She said fundraising is going well, but declined to say how far along the foundation is on reaching its $4 million goal.
As the site plan has been in flux, Medrano said the foundation has been trying to get donors to visualize the interior of the market — the sight of 10-foot by 10-foot stalls with sinks and ovens that are surrounded by art — rather than concentrate on the exterior design.
An architectural and engineering request for proposals on the Public Market is expected to be sent out by the city next month, Kennelly said.
Ultimately, the market is expected to be funded by $7.5 million from the city, $4 million from fundraising and up to $3 million in federal New Market Tax Credits, he said.
The city and the private developers also will need to explore a tax incremental financing agreement for the private elements. The city is hopeful that construction could start in 2019 and the market open in 2020.
With several agreements and approvals still needed, though, Waller said he is unsure when construction could begin.
“The timeline is very difficult to peg right now,” he said. “Time will tell how quick this can come together. I think everybody’s excited about it.”