High-speed depot pressures Madison planners
City planners have three years to fit an underground parking garage, hotel, public market and office buildings across the street from a new high-speed rail station in downtown Madison.
“Everything will not be done by the time the train arrives,” said Common Council President Mark Clear.
“That’s just not realistic. But parking will have to be in place.”
Gov. Jim Doyle on Thursday said Madison’s high-speed rail station will be on the Lake Monona side of the Wisconsin Department of Administration building at 101 E. Wilson St. The station will be next to the bottom of the DOA building on John Nolen Drive.
The announcement ended more than a month of speculation after the governor announced in May the stop would be in the vicinity of the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center.
The state also considered the Wisconsin Department of Health Services Building, 1 W. Wilson St., for the station.
Doyle said the DOA site gives the state the best chance to offer passengers a good customer experience because the DOA building already includes a terrace and cafeteria. He said the plan also fits Madison’s goal to redevelop the proposed Public Market Square properties across Wilson Street from the DOA building.
The state has not determined the station project cost or timeline, Doyle said. He said the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will work with Madison on design guidelines, but he said he expects the project to be ready for the high-speed train’s expected arrival in Madison in 2013.
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said Thursday the station will be a catalyst for redevelopment of the south side of Capitol Square. He said redevelopment will include a new hotel, a public market and, possibly, new office buildings.
The city also plans to build an underground parking garage with up to 1,600 spaces to replace the 52-year-old aboveground Government East parking ramp.
Cieslewicz said he and Clear soon will introduce a city resolution requesting qualifications for a master planning team to organize development of Public Market Square.
The challenge for the city, Cieslewicz said, will be timing.
Milwaukee-based Marcus Corp. has expressed interest in building a hotel on the Madison Municipal Building site across from DOA but has not formalized the proposal.
Madison-based Common Wealth Development Inc. expressed interest in building a public market above the underground structure but is seeking $100,000 in city money for a detailed study of building on the site.
Bill Knobeloch, Madison’s parking operations manager, said the city cannot afford to start building the underground garage without knowing what will happen aboveground.
“Do you anticipate building for the heaviest possible 13-story structure when you end up with a shorter hotel with a courtyard?” he said. “Do you build 1,500 spaces when you might only need 1,200? It affects column spacing, and of course you don’t want to overbuild and spend money you don’t have to.”
The cheapest estimate for underground parking, Knobeloch said, is $27,000 per parking stall. So if the city builds a 1,600-stall garage when it might only need 1,200 stalls, the project would cost an extra $10.8 million.
“No one, be it the feds or us,” Knobeloch said, “has an extra $10 million to throw at this project.”
If the city lacks immediate building commitments, Cieslewicz said, Madison could take a phased approach to building the underground ramp. He said the high-speed rail station presents a mix of questions and opportunities.
“It’s going to be intense,” Cieslewicz said.