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The Future of Central Madison

June 30, 2008

A few weeks ago I posted a reminder of Madison’s Future of Downtown meetings that were held last week.

I had the opportunity to attend 2 of the 6 meetings and thought I’d share a few insights from them. It was a very good process, though not very well attended. Of course 2 of the meetings fell on the opening night for Concerts on the Square (poor planning).

Here were the recommendations from the kickoff meetings regarding Downtown Working and Business:

  1. More live/work (including families) opportunities Downtown-demographics outside of students and empty nesters.
  2. Encourage multistory, mixed use buildings with ground floor pedestrian oriented uses.
  3. Keep and grow basic sector jobs Downtown.
  4. Retail business to meet the needs of residents.
  5. Create a Wisconsin Idea Center near Capitol Square and State Street.
  6. Provide adequate office space for existing and new businesses to grow Downtown.
  7. Balance the mix of retail and entertainment.
  8. Efficient and affordable transportation system to get lower wage workers Downtown (i.e. partnership with City for bus passes).
  9. Sustainability-incorporate Natural Step.
  10. Large Scale Job Center-Economic development incubator needed Downtown.

All in all the discussions were very good.  The major issue at my table dealt with parking being a hindrance to job growth downtown.  There were many ideas passed around but the 2 major ideas were to allow the city to lease parking spaces in the city ramps to private business and to bring a light rail or express bus system into Downtown from a “park and ride” utilizing the space at the Alliant Energy Center. 

I’ll post some of the other ideas from these meetings in the next few days.

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