Momentum is growing in the race to redevelop downtown with a recent announcement of an upcoming update for University Square, the 700 block of University Avenue.
In addition to the new Overture Project and the Fluno Center, University Square’s current owner, Executive Management Inc. has unveiled plans to UW-Madison and the city for a new $120 million to $140 million redesign project for the largest and most expensive private building ever in downtown Madison.
Executive Management Inc, President Greg Rice, who is proposing the new project, is offering to replace the current University Square with a 12-story, 870,000-square-foot building with two floors of underground parking to host businesses, offices and residents alike.
According to a recent Wisconsin State Journal story, Rice intends to work with the city, university and community to ensure the project meets everyone’s needs.
“I think this is a very prominent block as it relates to the university,” he said. “You want to have something special here.”
In initial conceptual presentations, both the mayors’ and chancellors’ offices showed approval.
“It is a very, very exciting project which will renovate what [the city] sees as a retired area,” says mayoral spokesman Ryan Mulcahy. “It is going to bring retail, residential and office space to an area that needs all those uses.”
Kent Barrett of UW Communications also expressed approval on behalf of the university administration.
“We’d certainly like to work with him because [the university] would be prime candidates for occupancy,” he said.
Barrett said Rice presented his plans to UW Chancellor John Wiley a few weeks ago.
Bruce Braun of UW Facilities Planning and Management also expressed excitement about the project.
“We need to continue a mixed-use development down there,” Braun said, adding that the university was already seeking refuge for an overload of offices in the Peterson Building.
“[The project] offers possibilities to decompress some buildings that are overcrowded right now,” Braun said.
As for possible conflicts in the planned development, both Mulcahy and Braun could only name parking and traffic issues and other minor issues such as height and density. But the plan is still in the conceptual stage, so any problems arising in the future will be researched and worked on by officials in the city and university administrations.
The project will include 62,000 square feet of retail space for bars or restaurants on the first floor, 24,000 square feet of commercial space on the second floor, 261,000 square feet of residential space for about 181 student apartments and 522,500 square feet of office space, most leased to the university, Rice told the Wisconsin State Journal.
Rice plans to submit his plans to the city in the next year, and to begin demolition for the project on Jan 1, 2003.
The development will call for the moving or closing of the current University Square residents and businesses, including a few restaurants, some retail stores, a Post Office and some banks.
Ed Shinnick, owner of Paisan’s Restaurant, said that despite the fact that the restaurant will have to arrange a move the renovation will actually be better for business in the long run.
“Paisan’s has been in business for 50 years, and we’re hoping to remain,” Shinnick said. “I think it is something that’s needed for the area and, if done right, will bring in more business.”