December 19, 2018. There’s been talk of a public market in Madison for years. Mayor Paul Soglin moved the idea forward when he created the Public Market Development Committee to research a market in 2012. The city council approved the idea in 2015 with the original plan to move into the City Fleet Services building at 200 First St. The proposed location changed since then, but as of this month the current plan is back to the Fleet Services building.
While it may seem like a long time in the making, the market is making progress, says Jamaal Stricklin, president of the Madison Public Market Foundation Board. “It’s going. It’s happening,” says Stricklin, who also works as sales director at SuperCharge! Foods. “I would rather take our time and do it the right way than to rush the project.”
Dan Kennelly, city manager of the Office of Business Resources, agrees. “The Madison Public Market project is building momentum,” Kennelly says. “2018 has seen a lot of progress. This includes the Madison Public Market Foundation Board being formally selected by the city as the future operator of the market and launching a fundraising campaign that has raised nearly $1 million.” Kennelly also says the site change back to the location at the Fleet Services building — as opposed to a brand new building at the corner of East Washington Avenue and First Street — is positive. “The Fleet Building is a solidly built, 50-year-old facility that has been used to maintain large vehicles. The building is 45,000 square feet with three large garage bays, 20 foot high ceilings and big overhead garage doors. Reusing a big old garage will also result in a market that has unique character and architectural interest,” Kennelly says.
But while city council members have been hashing out details and architects have been drawing up plans, a group of 30 entrepreneurs — the heart and soul of the Madison Public Market, say its organizers — have been busy since 2017 creating business plans, purchasing equipment, touring other public markets and taking business classes with support from the city’s MarketReady Program.