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Alliant

The planned redevelopment of the Alliant Energy Center is one of the Dane County Board's top initiatives for 2019.

A major overhaul of the Alliant Energy Center that would upgrade current facilities and introduce new, private development has moved another step forward with the approval of a master plan by the center’s oversight committee.

Under the master plan by Minneapolis-based Perkins+Will released last month, the Dane County-owned Alliant Center’s 164-acre campus would be redesigned over several years to include housing, commercial buildings and restaurants to accompany its events spaces, including the Coliseum, Exhibition Hall and New Holland Pavilions. The plan was unanimously approved Monday by the Alliant Energy Center Comprehensive Master Plan Oversight Committee.

It would cost about $305 million to complete the first phase of the plan. Most of the funds would come from private developers who would build hotels and mixed-use buildings on a portion of the campus fronting John Nolen Drive. About $90 million would come from the county for facility upgrades and expansions and campus improvements.

The investment is needed because without improvements, the currently self-sustaining Alliant Center will become a “fiscal drain” on the county, Perkins+Will said in the master plan. Customers who regularly rent the center’s event spaces have called for better and more amenities. Those customers would find better venues elsewhere and the center wouldn’t likely draw in new customers, the plan says.

The complete redevelopment also would also likely add about 1,400 jobs and $3 million in annual tax revenue, and net operating revenue would double, according to a county statement.

“It’s a win-win for our current customers and the economic vitality of the area,” said County Board Chairwoman Sharon Corrigan, a member of the oversight committee.

The master plan also calls for creating a space more people will want to visit anytime, not just when attending one of the center’s events, which range from the World Dairy Expo to the Wizard World Comic Convention to Madison Area Technical College’s graduation ceremonies.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said in a statement that he supports the development plan. The Alliant Center — at the corner of John Nolen Drive and Rimrock Road near the Beltline — is currently in the town of Madison, but will be annexed by the city in 2022 under the town and city’s agreement.

“The transformation of the campus into a vital, walkable, mixed-use district as proposed in The Alliant Energy Center Campus Master Plan will provide a sense of arrival to our community and an improved connection to our thriving downtown,” Soglin said in the statement.

The bulk of the county’s funding would go toward renovating the Coliseum, which was at one point considered for demolition and reconstruction, and the expansion of the Exhibition Hall, which would include adding multiple meeting rooms and a ballroom.

The campus redesign also would include modified roads, increased landscaping and up-to-date storm water systems to mitigate flooding concerns in the area.

Corrigan said she will introduce a resolution to the County Board that will create a committee to oversee the implementation of the plan — which would happen over years or even decades. That committee will look at the feasibility of each improvement and make recommendations on when to move forward with each step.

County Executive Joe Parisi has begun the process of requesting $35 million from the state Building Commission to use for the expansion of the Exhibition Hall, said his chief of staff, Josh Wescott.

The final decisions on how to fund and when to make changes to the campus will be made by Parisi and the County Board when creating the annual capital budget.

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Shelley K. Mesch is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She earned a degree in journalism from DePaul University.