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Garver Feed Mill becomes neighborhood crown jewel

The Garver Feed Mill on Madison’s east side is a story of transformations — going from an agricultural center to nearly ruins before experiencing a renaissance as a mixed-use development.

The United States Sugar Co. built the center in 1906 to process sugar beets, and it later was converted into a granary. Food processing stopped there in 1997, and the city of Madison bought the property.

Garver then sat vacant for more than 20 years, descending into dangerous disrepair, until the city chose Baum Revision in 2016 to redevelop the building.

Baum Revision brought in Bachmann Construction as the general contractor for the $15 million project. Restoration began with the exterior of the 60,000-square-foot masonry building. But before anything could be done, workers had to do shoring and temporary protection to clean out debris in about 6,000 square feet of the interior deemed too dangerous to enter.

And that was just the beginning of the many difficulties ahead. Bachmann discovered pits filled with putrid water, underground tunnels filled with debris, asbestos and brick used as fill onsite sitting below all of the floors and surface soil.

“Safety was the most difficult part of the project,” said Chris Quandt, senior project manager at Bachmann. “We constantly looked at the conditions and made sure safety was the No. 1 priority and approached it with that mindset.”

Quandt said there were no jobsite-related injuries during the entire project — a point of pride for him, along with the self-performed masonry restoration.

Bachmann used more than 70,000 Old Chicago bricks salvaged from a nearby building demolition and mixed mortar to match the consistency and color of the existing masonry.

Now, the new and old blends together seamlessly, and the historically accurate restoration allowed the building to be listed on the National Historic Register.

Garver Feed Mill opened to the public in 2019. Its spacious interior with lofted ceilings and exposed steel beams maintains the building’s rich history while serving as a home for new restaurants, small businesses and an event space.

“This project is special in that the renovated Garver Feed Mill continues to function as a food production facility, honoring and preserving the building’s and Madison’s rich agricultural and industrial history,” said Bryant Moroder, principal of Baum Revision.

Garver Feed Mill

Location: Madison, Wisconsin

Project size: 60,000 Square Feet

Project cost: $15 Million

Start date: December 2017

Completion date: July 2019

Nominators: Bachmann Construction,  The Kubala Washatko Architects

General Contractor: Bachmann Construction

Architect: SmithGroup

Architect: The Kubala Washatko Architects

Engineer: Structural Integrity

Engineer: JDR Engineering

Owner: Baum Revision