Sunday, September 27, 2009

21st Century Madison: Growing Pains

Madison, stop dragging your feet. Stop eyeing everything from a defensive stance and coming up with alternative plan upon alternative plan and forcing developers to compromise on their original vision. To view every larger scale proposal with such trepedation. It's tired. It's annoying.

Approve the Edgewater Hotel Redevelopment plan.
A big boost for Edgewater: Mayor Cieslewicz will support $16 million in funding for hotel August 28, 2009

Approve the plan for the new Downtown Public Library/Developers Site

To be honest though I don't have much personal interested invested in the Library and Edgewater plans. Neither would change much of anything, like connectivity or Madison's social & cultural landscape. I use Linkcat and am in and out at my local library branch, and in all the years I've been here I've never had any reason to go to the Edgewater. And is there really a need for more hotel rooms on the Isthmus?
Central Park and Commuter Rail however, I would actually utilize.

Remove the outdated building height restriction [PDF] (after a couple years of living here, you've seen enough of the capital to last a lifetime) which really came into focus when a developer "dared" to propose a project that would alter Madison's skyline.
Proposals For East Washington Protect View Of The Capitol December 21, 2005
How High Is Too High? April 2, 2006
Confront city's fear of heights October 18, 2009

That project was Archipelago Village, a 27 story development proposed by Curt Brink along the 900 block of East Washington Ave back in 2005.
E. Wash Colossus Planned The Massive Building Would Be The City's Costliest Ever March 13, 2005
Developer Plans 27-Story Project For East Washington March 16, 2005

It didn't pass go initially, but it did succeed in stirring discussion.
27-story complex stirs urban growth debate April 7, 2005
Where the project stands today;
Exciting Development Plan Is 'Alive' But Smaller September 20, 2008

Another East Washington project that didn't go through? Avenue 800 on the Don Miller lot. Gorman dropped the Avenue 800 housing and retail project because of a $2 million difference with the city over public assistance. A missed opportunity?

Next, onto areas of Madison more in need of redevelopment. Of all the main thoroughfares of Madison, the two which should take priority with redevelopment in mind are East Washington Ave and Stoughton Road (US 51). Not far behind the list would be Park Street (work has been done to redevelop Villager Mall/Developer). For far too much attention, money and development has been given to the west side over the years.

The East Washington Avenue Reconstruction Project (in phase 4)

Make Central Park/Old UOSF site (archived) happen in it's most grandiose incarnation.
Surrounded By Reality's Central Park summation.

‘Millennium park’ may come to city (an early article when the location of Madison's 'Central Park' wasn't yet determined) March 15, 2007
Central Park Plan Priorities Panel Recommends Madison Build 'First-Class Urban Park' March 5, 2008
What Happened To Madison's Central Park? It May Still Be Years Away June 30, 2009

Where "Central Park" stands today. All that's been done is the planting of a few trees. Not exactly the grand vision planners had in mind. Photo courtesy of Madison Views.
Mayor gives big boost to Central Park in capital budget September 2, 2009

P.S. NO MORE CONDOS! Madison already has a gluttony of new (and unsold) condos.
I don't know anyone (myself included) who desires to purchase/live in a condo. Most like myself want to buy homes, or live in (affordable) apartments until that day comes.
With Glut Of Condos Still On Market, The Biggest Projects Are Apartment Buildings August 9, 2009

The economic downturn has inevitably caused many projects to downsize, stall or put on indefinite hold (Central Park, Union Corners). Not to mention stir up more opposition and in-fighting.
Central Park panel backs bare-bones, affordable plan July 15, 2009
Consortium eyes stalled Union Corners development October 5, 2009
Council members want referendum on library, Edgewater redevelopment October 9, 2009

Additional reading on development in downtown Madison;
The Sky's The Limit: Downtown Madison Keeps Growing Up David Medaris February 20, 2009
Welcome To Boom Town Marc Eisen 2/18/2005

Let's get things moving on the Tradewinds Business Center! (Consulting Firm)

Southeast Business Park Breaks Ground August 5, 2006
Marcus Plans New Cinema For Southeast Madison August 8, 2006
Marcus Proposes 12-Screen Theater August 9, 2006
Entertainment Center In The Works August 11, 2008
Motel, Bowling Alley, Theater To Break Ground Soon August 12, 2008
More entertainment options for Madison's east side August 13, 2008

The Stoughton Road Revatilization Project [SRRP Brochure in PDF format]
Simply put as the website states; "Stoughton Road from East Broadway to Highway 30 is not visually welcoming. It is not aesthetically pleasing. And it does not profile Madison as a high quality urban space."
I was pleased to hear about this. I've traveled up and down Stoughton Road/Hwy 51 probably more than any of Madison's main thoroughfares, and it ain't ever been "pretty". A makeover has been long overdue.
I just think it needs some beautification. A better front. More trees, updated street lights, improved intersections (The Dept of Transportation identified Stoughton Road as having Madison's most dangerous intersections), make it pedestrian friendly. Perhaps more attractive/desireable retail & business along the Stoughton Rd/Hwy 51 corridor. Sometimes I'll drive up & down Monona Drive as an alternative (even though it's slower and has more stop lights) just because I find it to be more of an aesthetically pleasing route.
I don't necessarily believe that it needs to become a "freeway" to achieve success.

Stoughton Road Business Developments;
Stoughton Road As A Freeway March 17, 2006
$40 Million Hotel Condo Proposed April 20, 2006
Talula replaced the failed Mexicali Rose, which had replaced the long-standing CJ's
Restaurant To Open At CJ's Site June 6, 2006
Talula Starts Off On The Right Note June 29, 2008

Madison really got screwed over on the 32 mile power lines along the beltline. As if the beltline isn't ugly enough as it is!
Beltline route chosen for power line as PSC approves 32-mile project June 12, 2009

It's good to see that Arbor Gate has made full use of space off of the somewhat dismal Todd Dr and W Beltline exit, where most pre-existing structures do not make the best use of space.

I've always thought that there should be more ways to get from one end of Madison to the other, and while I wouldn't have been regularly utilizing the hotly debated North Beltline (RIP), if it would've helped to ease congestion on the Beltline I'm still for it.

In Closing; If Madison wasn't always trying to be a model city seated at the head of the class perhaps things wouldn't be so difficult for business owners and those who think outside of the box [it took nearly sixty years for Frank Lloyd Wright's vision for the Monona Terrace to be brought to reality. I could just see Madison's city leader's sitting in a locked room for sixty years debating the possible positives & negatives of the project.]

If you want to be a legitimately dynamic city, and not just a one-trick pony "college town" with Westowne on one end, Easttowne on the other, and The Capital, State Street and the University in the middle, you need to take some chances. I realize this is a planned city and not a city that just happened by accident, but sometimes you just have to let things happen and allow things to run their course. I'd like to see Madison grow around me. I've been here over 15 years now and while Madison has made some great strides in that time, it sometimes seems that the more things change the more they stay the same.

I realize there's much pull in the opposite direction. I can only sympathize for all who long for the Madison they discovered when they first moved here, for those who moved here to escape the perils of larger city life, or for those looking for the perfect & quaint small to mid-size city to widdle away their years. But the momentum of growth has already gained speed, and to stop it now would be a big red mark against the city.
As for all the growth that's taken place, I feel that it's given much more than it's taken away.

Local Development Links;
City Of Madison Department Of Planning
Competitive Wisconsin
Future Wisconsin
Wisconsin Business
Wisconsin Development News
Wisconsin Planners

Sunday, September 20, 2009

From The Archives: 21st Century Milwaukee

Discovery World opens it's doors.

The new 63.7 million dollar facility opens along the shores of Lake Michigan, adjacent to Lakeshore Park which had it's formal opening in Spring of 2007.
"Discovery World has launched a "Year of Discovery" to unveil its exhibits as they're completed." Discovery World's project completion date was September of 2007.

I used to go to the original Discovery World in the building across the street from the MPM. Back in the day it was more of the hands-on alternative to the Milwaukee Public Museum.
"Discovery World first opened its doors on the top floor of the Milwaukee Public Library in 1984. Then operations were moved over to Milwaukee Public Museum in 1994 and most recently at the Pier Wisconsin location in 2006."

Quoted from the Milwaukee Journal, here are some of the upcoming exhibits to appear;
LifeJet City
A "think tank" village where visitors can incubate ideas and "identify their own passions, and turn what they love to do into wealth" through ideas and prototypes, according to Discovery World spokeswoman Cynthia Johnson. Includes manufacturing, bank and ad agency areas where people can create a business plan and their own marketing program.
Johnson Controls' TechnoJungle
Will have four major areas, including a "base camp," (a video orientation), secret lab (where visitors can piece together notes and diagrams left behind by a "lost engineering team"), Smart Vehicle display (where visitors can prototype and test interior safety technologies), and TechTopia, (where visitors can share their experiences, with access to body-scanning and other technologies).
Briggs & Stratton's Milwaukee Muscle
Demonstrates the history of machinery, from lifting devices of the 1800s to cars of the future.
Badger Meter Corp.'s Liquid House
An urban house built of water introducing concepts of water flow and measurement in the household setting.

State's Largest & Most Advanced, The Daniel M. Soref Planetarium opens for business November 10th, 2006.

I thought Sonic Vision sounded pretty cool; "With a mix by Moby and featuring tracks from Radiohead, U2, David Bowie, Coldplay, Queens of the Stone Age, Prodigy, The Flaming Lips, Fischerspooner, Spiritualized, Audioslave, Stereolab, Boards of Canada, David Byrne and Brian Eno, Goldfrapp, Zwan, White Zombie, and Moby, the music ignites this one-of-a-kind computer-generated musical and visual experience, which uses next-generation digital technology to illuminate the planetarium's dome with a dazzling morphing of colorful visions."

Pabst City

Once upon a time there was a plan to renovate the old Pabst Brewery into a $317 million dollar entertainment oriented project named "Pabst City". Pabst City was to include a House of Blues music venue, a Gameworks arcade & restaurant, an authentic German restaurant hall called the Hofbrauhaus - similar to the famous Munich restaurant, and a Marcus owned downtown theater.
On a local scale, pabst City was somewhat similar to the 2001 renovation of Block E in Minneapolis, albeit on a larger scale (over twice the development cost), and with a House Of Blues in place of a swanky nightclub and a German Beer Hall in place of a Hard Rock Cafe.
The project called for a $41 million dollar loan from the city, which was to be repaid by the additional property taxes the project would generate. The Milwaukee council voted it down and thus the project was dead.
Yes it's true, the project was large and risky and may have been based on a partially outdated plan for downtown revivial. But still, I for one am really disappointed to hear this. Personally I see this as denying a great opportunity and works against the revitalization of downtown Milwaukee. I'm with OMC when they said that "Killing PabstCity is an embarassing vote for status quo" July 26, 2005.

The latest on the Pabst Project? They've went with a much more fiscally sound, and less exciting plan to incorporate condos and office space. For a while Marcus was still on for a theater in Pabst, but eventually they too dropped out. Marcus says they're still interested in putting a theater downtown, just not within the Pabst Project.

Bayshore Town Center opens

Bayshore emerges from cocoon Oct 29 2006
Grand opening was November 2nd, it was a reported 360 million dollar project, and it opened at 70% capacity.
"The new Bayshore Town Center adds several new buildings to the existing Bayshore Mall infrastructure to create 45-acre "town center" concept featuring 1.2 million sq. ft. of retailers, restaurants, office space and residential space, as well as a town square that will host public events and concerts."
Bay shops want to keep up with new neighbor Oct 29 2006
Bayshore Town Center feels like a little retail village November 2, 2006
Take the Milwaukee Challenge: Bayshore vs. Mayfair Dec 20 2006
The grand opening of Bayshore Town Center in Glendale has brought the Milwaukee area a maelstrom of new shops & restaurants. Much of the tenant listing reads like a who's who of what's hot today. A Trader Joe's, an H&M (with Men's clothing), Brooks Brothers, and an Apple Store.
On the restaurant front Bayshore has scored Wisconsin's first California Pizza Kitchen, a 2nd Milwaukee area Cheesecake Factory, and a 2nd Milwaukee area Bar Louie's/OMC Article.

Move over Greenway Station (Madison), you've been one-upped.

Harley Davidson Museum

The museum, a $75 million dollar complex, opened to the public on July 12, 2008
Harley museum's debut set, July 12 will be opening day for anticipated major tourist attraction May 6, 2008
Harley-Davison Museum is a slice of Hog heaven August 29, 2008

Milwaukee Public Market
Public Market prepares to swing open it's doors Sept 28, 2005

Bradford Beach Water Garden
Bradford Beach Group Unveils New Design Ideas July 28, 2005
Bradford Beach house poised for makeover May 15, 2008

A Milwaukee Chinatown? June 17, 2008

Other Milwaukee Development Projects
Department Of City Development
Park East Development
Third Ward Development