Last night at Tenney Park, residents of Madison's near east side raised concerns about a new music venue proposed for the 1000 block of East Washington Avenue. The venue, a project of local concert-promotion company Frank Productions, would likely hold more than 2,000 concertgoers.
More than 50 area residents went to the park's John Wall Family Pavilion for a meeting that included presentations by representatives from Frank Productions and Stone House Development. Attendees asked what the venue might mean for parking and traffic, and shared concerns about disruptions at nearby schools and other neighborhood establishments.
Stone House Development recently proposed to demolish the Madison Dairy Produce building and build a 46,000-square-foot music venue operated by Frank Productions. The development company also wants to create a 250-stall parking ramp, a mixed-use office building, and 65 units of affordable housing on East Mifflin Street.
Melissa Higgins of Urban Assets, a planner Frank Productions has hired for the project, outlined preliminary plans for the venue site. She says the space would be large enough to host 2,000 to 2,500 attendees, but would likely reach capacity only five or six times each year. She predicts that the average show would attract about 1,200 attendees, and that the venue would be used for 75 to 100 shows per year.
According to Higgins, the parking ramp would house enough stalls for the average event at the venue, and that nearby street parking could be used for larger shows. She says Frank Productions plans to direct parking away from residential neighborhoods whenever possible. The main stage would face East Washington Avenue to help prevent sound from reaching nearby homes.
Ald. Ledell Zellers noted that this meeting is the first of many to discuss the project with local residents. The formal proposal will need approval from the city's Urban Design Commission and Planning Commission, she says. The music venue will also have to apply for a liquor license through the Alcohol License Review Committee.
"The project is still in the very early stages of development," Zellers explains. "Some questions might not have answers yet."
Zellers says she prefers to seek input from neighborhood residents when there is still time to influence the project’s outcome. She plans to create a neighborhood steering committee to share residents' input with stakeholders such as Stone House and Frank Productions.
Higgins adds that Frank Productions is interested in forming a long-term steering committee to ensure a peaceful relationship with the area businesses, schools and residents.
Fred Frank, CEO of Frank Productions, says his family has been in the live-music industry for 40 years and is committed to serving the Madison community well.
"We're looking forward to bringing our work here and being part of the neighborhood," Frank told meeting attendees. "We want to be a good neighbor."