Madison Public Market project still alive after council approves TIF district funding as part of budget


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    MADISON, Wis. — Members of Madison’s Common Council passed the latest city budget after two days of lengthy meetings and debate, including an amendment that provides a lifeline to the long-planned Madison Public Market project.

    The amendment opens the door to more funding for the Public Market proposal through a new TIF district on the city’s east side, although the TIF amount ultimately approved was $4.5 million — less than initially proposed, due to additional support being provided by Dane County.

    Prior to the council’s vote on the amendment for Public Market funding, Alder Syed Abbas said the amendment was a “deal maker or deal breaker” — meaning he believed rejecting the amendment would mean killing the Public Market project for good.

    Other alders, including new District 17 Alder Sabrina Madison, said supporting the Public Market funding would allow a greater chance of social mobility for entrepreneurs of color in the community.

    The amendment was ultimately approved by the council by a vote of 17-3.

    Alders also approved Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s plans to expand the Community Alternative Response Emergency Services (CARES) program, which responds to non-violent behavioral health-related emergencies instead of police.

    “This budget puts our money where our values are, building a better Madison that will be strong and resilient for years to come. I thank the Common Council for unanimously adopting the budget,” Mayor Rhodes-Conway said in a statement Thursday morning.

    The mayor also said she was glad the council gave consideration to keeping the Public Market idea alive.

    “I look forward to the Public Market becoming a reality,” the mayor said.

    The Public Market has been planned for the former city fleet services building on First Street for years but has seen a number of funding challenges along the way. In August, the city said the combination of grant money drying up and rising construction costs put the project in a $5.2 million shortfall, further delaying a project that was already on life support due to the pandemic delaying construction.

    Prior to the most recent setback, the city had planned to break ground on the project this fall with an anticipated opening date of late 2023.