City of Madison
The 700 and 800 block project has a goal of getting under construction in the spring of 2014.
Representatives from the city and the UW-Madison kicked off plans to redevelop the 700 and 800 blocks of State Street near Library Mall Tuesday with a public input meeting. The plan is part of a larger series of developments that will change the appearance State Street, with the 100 block currently under construction and the Mullins Group recently announcing broad changes to the 500 block.
Campus-area Ald. Scott Resnick says this is the culmination of goals set early in the 2000s when residents and businesses were leaving Madison and the downtown area. With these new projects moving forward, he says "it's going to drive the next 50 years of what the street is going to look like."
The 700 and 800 blocks of State -- also known as the State Street Mall, which many people may believe are actually part of Library Mall -- stretch from Lake Street to Park Street, and include entrances to the University Book Store, a couple churches, and Memorial Library, and is a primary site for local food carts. One issue that was raised at Tuesday's meeting was creating more light in the area to allow the food carts more time to stay open.
The biggest goals of the development seem to be focused on making connections between the city and the university. These blocks are located at the intersection of several developments including the East Campus Mall, which will eventually connect the Kohl Center to Lake Mendota via Library Mall and a new park which will replace the parking lot next to Memorial Union. Adding a connection between Bascom Mall, State Street and the Capitol is a priority for the developers, who call that connection via the current State Street Mall "unclear."
Those in attendance Tuesday were asked to weigh in on how they thought connections between all these entities could be made. Joe Porter, a landscape designer for Ken Saiki Design, talked more about general goals of the project in this very early stage than specific details.
"It's really a blank slate at this point," he said. He also pointed out that his firm wanted to hold the first meeting before the semester ends to make sure students have input.
Farther up State Street on the 500 block, the Mullins Group is planning a major redevelopment, tearing down the University Inn and two other buildings to build a 12-story apartment building and retail space.
Sue Springman, who works with the Mullins Group, believes "so many residents close to State will create more vitality" and stresses that the height will not actually be on State, but will be stepped back.
"What's cool," Springman says, "is you're finally seeing the mall project get going and some actual new development of buildings and redoing some others. It's really going to pull the street together."
Resnick agrees that the project has a lot of potential, calling it "one of the biggest projects in the city of Madison," but also pointed out that if there is any effect on the view of the Capitol from the top of Bascom, changes will have to be made.
"Certain values we are going to keep the exact same," Resnick says.
The 700 and 800 block project has a goal of getting under construction in the spring of 2014, and pending approvals, the Mullins Group project on the 500 block could start around the same time. More input on the developments around the State Street Mall will be sought at a public meeting in June.