Mayor Paul Soglin recently announced updated plans for the Madison Public Market. This year-round market space, which will be home to local food and retail vendors, will now be located at the corner of First Street and East Johnson Street on Madison’s near east side, rather than at the corner of First and East Washington Avenue. The city-owned Fleet Services building currently occupies this site and will undergo renovations to become the Public Market when Fleet Services relocates in 2020.
The previously proposed market site is next door to Fleet Services, where the privately-owned Washington Square shopping plaza is currently located. The future Public Market site sits directly next to Burr Jones Park along the Yahara River, and provides more square footage than the original development plans. The renovation of the existing building is projected to provide cost savings when compared to the costs of new building construction, according to the city. Plans for the market include an outdoor seating area, access to water and greenspace, a performance stage and vendor space.
Madison Public Market’s MarketReady Program, which is operated by the Northside Planning Council, works in collaboration with the city to support a cohort of 30 food and retail business entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds as they prepare to apply for a spot in the market, with the goal of creating a market that is representative of Madison’s population and cultural diversity. Guided by the mission of the Public Market, priority is given to applicants that belong to populations facing historic barriers to entrepreneurship, including low-income populations, people of color, immigrants, women, displaced workers, veterans and LGBTQ individuals.
With 20-foot high ceilings, a second level which opens the possibility of a mezzanine area overlooking the market and access to green space, Mayor Soglin remarked that this was a “100-year decision,” creating an opportunity to provide “access to food at an affordable price to people in our city.” The Fleet Services division expects to vacate the building in 2020, with renovation of the Fleet Services building into the Public Market expected to be completed in 2021.