Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Madison still in market for a market

By: Adam Wise//July 6, 2011//

Madison still in market for a market

By: Adam Wise//July 6, 2011//

Listen to this article

By Adam Wise

The Government East parking garage site, 215 S. Pinckney St., Madison, is where developers are looking to put a public market. (Image courtesy of Google Maps)

The city of Madison in August will convene a committee to once again study the potential of a downtown public market.

The city already has studied the possibility for six years, spending at least $160,000 on consultants for a possible market. Such exhaustive research is the Madison way but not necessarily a guarantee for success, Alderman Michael Verveer said.

“I think given our budget realities and the fact these public markets are so costly, not just to build but operate, I don’t see a public market opening any time soon in Madison,” he said. “That’s why the council voted (Tuesday) to do what we do best: create committees.”

But more research could lead to more expense for the city, Common Council President Lauren Cnare said.

“I worry about it any time we’re going to ask for money,” she said. “That being said, I think the last thing we want to do is put our finger up in the wind and say, ‘That’s a good idea,’ and go ahead.”

Still, Cnare said, the committee likely would face resistance if it asks for more research money.

That’s a guarantee, Verveer said.

“I don’t see us spending any money,” he said, “on additional consultants and studies any time soon.”

The city in 2006 hired the team of Common Wealth Development, Blue Planet Partners LLC and NorthStar Economics Inc. for $100,000 to research the need, viability and potential site of a public market near downtown. The group, which received another $60,000 in 2008, ultimately recommended the city build a market at the Government East parking ramp on Pinckney Street.

The Common Council in June killed a plan to pay Common Wealth Development $250,000 to develop a business plan for building an estimated $10 million market at Government East.

Mayor Paul Soglin, who will appoint nine people, including three Common Council members, to the committee, said the project was just too expensive.

“Government East is not part of the mix,” he said.

Soglin said he did not know the limit to which the city could support a public market, but he wouldn’t rule out paying for more research.

“It depends what it’s for,” he said. “I can’t speculate until I know what the details are.”

It’s unclear how long the new committee will take to form a recommendation. Verveer predicted a year. Soglin said he wanted a report at some point this winter.

Alderwoman Bridget Maniaci said she just wanted the discussion to move forward.

“If it’s starting from square one, I don’t think a lot of alders will have the patience for it,” Maniaci said. “It’s really about doing what we can with the resources we have.”

The committee’s top task will be to identify what type of market Madison wants.

“There’s sort of an underlying embracing of trying to get more of the local food-growing community directly linked to residents,” Cnare said.

Whatever it looks like, she said, a market, even after years of research, still has a lot of potential.

“We have a very good tolerance for studying things until we feel pretty certain about them,” Cnare said. “The fact it has been around so long shows there’s interest.”

More from Madison’s public market


Is the labor shortage getting:

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Today’s News

See All Today's News

Project Profiles

See All Project Profiles