State Street seemingly has everything — great food, fantastic clothing shops and niche goods — but is clearly lacking one thing, a hotel. That all could change with the addition of a $30 million hotel by the summer of 2017.
The proposed hotel, to be located on 122 State Street, would not only provide a convenient place for tourists to stay, but would also allow an influx of capital into the State Street area, helping to stabilize local businesses.
With 20 properties on State available for lease and two buildings for sale, downtown Madison is in constant turnover, which leads to the expansion of food and drink franchises and the demise of retail vendors. This happens because there are fewer barriers to entering the restaurant or bar business compared to the retail business.
The following data backs up this assertion. From 1994 to 2014, State Street underwent some major changes. First it went from primarily retail to an equal mix of of retail and dining options. In 1994, retail made up 69 percent of the shops on State, while restaurants and bars accounted for 25 percent. Twenty years later the composition is 49 percent to 48 percent, respectively.
The reason all this pertains to a hotel in Madison is based on who makes retail purchases downtown. The city’s downtown market retail study found that 75 percent of individuals who make a retail purchase downtown did not come there primarily to shop. Rather they came as tourists, to visit friends and family or to eat out.
This hotel would expand the tourist base for the city. Most of the hotels in Madison are primarily used as conference centers to conduct business. This proposed hotel stands in stark contradiction to that theme. It is wholly a boutique hotel, meant to house those vacationing. Its sole purpose is to encourage people to come to Madison and spend money here, and I have to say after living here for two years, I don’t see why people wouldn’t come.
Aaron Reilly ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in social work and economics.