WKOW: City unveils design for Madison Public Market

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Sept 5, 2019. People in Madison finally got a look at what the Madison Public Market will look like.

The city unveiled the nearly-complete design at a meeting at the Madison Municipal Building.

It’ll have spaces for local merchants to sell their goods, a market kitchen and outdoor plazas.

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Cap Times: City unveils detailed Madison Public Market designs

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Sep 6, 2019. For the first time, officials on Thursday shared designs for the years-in-the-making Madison Public Market that is slated to open on the east side in 2021.

The market will be located in what has been the 45,000-square-foot Fleet Services garage at 200 N. First St., which is owned by the city. The space presents unique challenges and opportunities for a public market. While designers have to work around an on-site fueling station for city vehicles, it also features multiple garage door openings that can be used to blend indoor and outdoor space.

“We have the honor of bringing physical life to all of the dreams and all of the thoughts and all of the brainstorming that has been happening,” Traci Lesneski, principal at MSR Design, said.

Mayor Maintains Support of the Market in the City’s Budget

Mayor Rhodes-Conway has upheld the City’s commitment to move forward with the Madison Public Market, reflecting support for this community economic development project. In her 2020 Capital Budget Plan, released last week, she maintained the City’s commitment of funding just over half of the project costs.

In her Executive Capital Budget Memo released on September 3rd, Mayor Rhodes-Conway stated: “The Public Market is a project we have debated as a community for a number of years. I recognize this project’s ability to support businesses and cultivate entrepreneurship, which is critical to realizing the goals of this [Economy].”

The Mayor has proposed shifting the City’s source of capital for the Market to the Tax Increment District that includes the project’s site (TID 36).

“My budget anticipates construction of the Public Market will continue as currently planned, but transfers the local funding share ($7.5 million) to revenue from the Tax Increment District,” said Mayor Rhodes-Conway in her recent Budget Memo. “I used the [money] saved here to invest in Bus Rapid Transit, Affordable Housing, and Land Banking with a focus on reducing the City’s debt obligations.”

According to City staff, this shift in the city’s internal financing strategy for the Public Market will have no effect on the Public Market’s timeline, design, or operating plan.

Included in her new budget plans, Mayor Rhodes-Conway calls for the Madison Public Market Foundation to raise an additional $500,000. The Foundation has currently raised $1.1 million of a $4 million capital campaign to support the development of the Public Market.

Thank you to Mayor Rhodes-Conway for continuing to move our Public Market forward!

Madison Public Market Foundation leads with development and operations planning

For many years, a vibrant and highly regarded public market has been the dream of entrepreneurs, community leaders and City of Madison employees.  To make this dream a reality, the community-led Madison Public Market Development Committee (MPMDC) ushered approvals through the Common Council, coordinated with City planning and economic development staff, and created a comprehensive business plan for the Market.

As plans proceeded, it became evident that the City’s role should be limited to critical matters related to the physical building of the Market including site selection, architectural design and construction. Their efforts, combined with the contributions of countless others, helped to create a timeline that calls for the opening of the Madison Public Market in Fall 2021.

Early in the planning process, it was determined that neither the MPMDC nor the City of Madison would be responsible for daily Market operations. The City’s primary role is to lead the renovation of the Fleet Services building (the Market’s future home) and maintain ownership of the building and land.

With that in mind, the Madison Public Market Foundation was created in May 2017. Operating as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the Foundation has already taken the lead in fundraising efforts and community engagement. When the Market is open, the Foundation will manage day-to-day operations. Until then, the Foundation will lead in vendor selection, the employee hiring process (including the Executive Director search), raise $4 million to create the Market, and work closely with the City on the architectural design so that the needs of vendors and tenants are met.

Recently, the Foundation hired Megan Ballard as Project Manager, charged with the task of implementing the Market’s operating plan. With a background in the commercial real estate industry, including managing and leasing shopping malls, Megan brings a wealth of experience critical to the operations of the proposed Madison Public Market. “I am so pleased to serve in this role”, says Ballard. “We have already made so much progress in terms of community outreach, in support of our MarketReady vendors, in fundraising activity and in creating innovative architectural designs for what will be an amazing asset for Madison and beyond.”

Ballard says that with the progress made towards building the market, this is a very exciting time. “Our next steps are those that prepare us for operationalizing the business plan in a manner that assures the Market’s financial success. Finalization of the architectural plans, including specifications for vendor siting, allows us to begin the process of selecting Market vendors. We’ve had tremendous interest expressed by local and regional businesses – both large and small. Very soon, we will develop both the rules and regulations for Market participation and define the leasing process.”

Business operators interested in opportunities at the Madison Public Market are encouraged to complete and submit the Madison Public Market Vendor Interest Form available from the City of Madison.

Board chair Jamaal Stricklin reviews design ideas from branding firm ZebradogThe look and feel of the Market is also a front-burner issue. The Foundation has engaged local communication design firm Zebradog (pictured right) to create a memorable and welcoming environment within the 50,000 square feet of the former Fleet Services Building. The Foundation will be responsible for selecting the building’s artwork, storytelling features and ongoing marketing and promotions for the Market, including regular community cultural events featuring area musicians, performers and artists.

Community engagement has long been a critical component of the Market’s development efforts, and the current status of the Market’s design incorporates thousands of public comments provided through surveys and public input sessions. The City of Madison has scheduled another Info & Public Feedback Session:

Thursday, September 5
6:00 pm
Madison Municipal Building, 215 Martin Luther King Blvd., RM 215
More Info Here

Attendees can view detailed designs of the proposed market, including the mix and layout of merchants at the market, event spaces, outdoor plazas, and potential community arts/exhibit spaces. There will be an update on pedestrian, bike and vehicle access and site design for what is currently the City’s Fleet Services Building at East Johnson Street and First Street.

The Foundation continues to update and engage with the community through Taste of the Madison Public Market events, active Facebook and Instagram pages, regular eUpdates, and presentations at Rotary, Kiwanis, Downtown Madison, Inc., and other forums.


The Madison Public Market Foundation Board members include:

  • Jamaal Stricklin (President), SuperCharge! Foods
  • Megan Ballard, Madison Commercial Real Estate
  • Sujhey Beisser, Park Bank & Five Senses Palate
  • Karen Crossley, community leader
  • Victoria Davis, Associated Bank
  • Rebecca Prochaska, Potter Lawson
  • Anne Reynolds, Madison Public Market Development Committee
  • Donale Richards
  • John Starkweather, Boardman Clark
  • Amanda White, Consultant (non-Board member)

Additionally, the Foundation created the Madison Public Market Advisory Council, consisting of community leaders who meet quarterly to provide guidance to the project. These members include:

  • Betty Banks, African American community historian and organizer
  • Craig Bartlett, Associate Publisher-Owner, Isthmus Publishing
  • Peter Cavi, First Vice President, Merrill Lynch
  • Al Cooper, Coordinator, Dane Dances
  • Suzanne Fanning, VP of Marketing Communications, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin
  • Greg Frank, VP of Community Relations, Food Fight Restaurant Group
  • Peter Gray, Executive Search Consultant, QTI
  • Alison Helland, Attorney, Boardman & Clark
  • Jonny Hunter, Co-Founder, Underground Food Collective
  • Ken Monteleone, Owner, Fromagination
  • Melanie Ramey, Communication Coach and Speaker
  • Helen Sarakinos, Executive Director, REAP Food Group
  • Trey Sprinkman, Owner, Sprinkman Real Estate
  • James Shulkin, Windflower Consulting, Windworker Studio and Fishmonger Studio
  • Steve Suleski, VP Board Relations, CUNA Mutual Group
  • Missy Tracy, Municipal Relations Coordinator, Ho Chunk Nation/Ho Chunk Casino

Ballard is optimistic that with the most current building design plans, the brand identity developed by Zebradog, and the upcoming Info & Feedback session, the Foundation can intensify efforts to raise the requisite capital from donors. “With the expertise of Amanda White Consulting, we have already raised more than a million dollars of our four million dollar goal. Our capital campaign is just getting started, and I’m confident that once everyone knows the scope of our plans and sees the architectural renderings, they’ll come together to support this important project.”If you are interested in getting involved with the Public Market through participating in the Advisory Council, Board of Directors, or volunteer opportunities, please contact Megan Ballard at megan@madisonpublicmarket.org.


James Shulkin is a communications professional and artist. He is the Principal at Windflower Marketing & Public Relations, Chief Kinetic Officer at Windworker Studio and creator at Fishmonger Studio. He’s also a member of the Madison Public Market’s Advisory Council.


The Madison Public Market:  The Next Stage in Promoting Local Food

Special thanks to our guest blogger, James Shulkin, member of the Madison Public Market Advisory Council!

Here in southern Wisconsin, we love our Farmers’ Markets! The Dane County Farmers Market located on the Capitol Square, is reportedly the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country. While certainly the best known in the region, and a must visit at least a few times each season, this “jewel” of markets is supplemented by at least twenty farmers’ markets elsewhere in Madison and in communities like Baraboo, Beloit, Fitchburg, Fort Atkinson, Janesville, Middleton, Monona, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, Verona and Waunakee.

The proposed Madison Public Market will offer some of the same amenities as your local farmers’ market, plus more. A key difference between a Farmer’s Market and Public Market is that a Public Market is indoors, allowing it to be open year round, often 5-7 days per week. The City of Madison’s fleet services building at the corner of E. Johnson and First Street, will be home to our year-round Public Market, opening at the end of 2021. This retro space is a perfect Market home with 2 story ceilings and open space, floor to ceiling windows, several 2 story garage doors that will be open during the warm months, and a location near green spaces including Burr Jones Field, the Yahara River and several bike paths.

Rendering of Public Market Interior

According to Jamaal Stricklin, Chair of the Madison Public Market Foundation, a non-profit tasked with operating the Market once it opens, shared, “At the Public Market, you’ll find items that you can’t get anywhere else in town all under roof ; ready-made food products, fresh produce, unique food ingredients and culturally diverse foods cooked on site that you can take home or eat there. We’re also planning to have a restaurant and cafe on site.”

Like your local farmer’s market, the Public Market will provide a fun and interesting gathering place to meet friends and co-workers while enjoying talented musicians and performers. However, the Market will have other amenities in that it will house community activities, meeting spaces, art exhibits, full-service restaurants, cooking classes, festivals and temporary pop-up vending events. In addition, the Public Market will provide a seasonal cold-weather option for farmers’ market vendors looking to expand their selling season.

The Madison Public Market Foundation is hoping to partner with local farmers’ markets by offering outdoor market stands during the growing season. “We’ve also had conversations with the Dane County Farmers’ Market to potentially relocate the winter market to our event space,” shared Stricklin.

Ugly Apple food cart owner Laurel hands samples to a customer at May 2019 Sneak Peek EventAccording to Dan Kennelly, manager of the City of Madison’s Office of Business Resources, the Public Market’s main purpose is community based economic development. “We want the Public Market to be a place where an entrepreneur with a unique idea for a new food product, or a new business idea, can have a place where there will be foot traffic, where they can launch their business and bring that idea to reality,” adds Kennelly. “We expect that market participants who make an interesting sauce, or jam or some other kind of food product, can use the Public Market to develop a customer base and continue to grow into a brick and mortar location, or sell wholesale to grocery stores on a much larger basis.”

The Madison Public Market will also be an important part of the overall regional agriculture community. The synergies that will exist among agriculture-related companies, organizations that support entrepreneurs like those mentioned above, and the Public Market, will likely make Madison the best local food community in the country. One exciting partnership is with the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin (DFW). DFW will host a Wisconsin Dairy Experience in the Market that will feature some of Wisconsin’s most beloved and delicious Wisconsin cheese vendors, cheese and dairy tastings, plus a fun, interactive experience that will foster our love of Wisconsin dairy! Suzanne Fanning, VP of Communications for Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, shares, “We’re excited to create a destination within the Market for locals and visitors alike to celebrate the vast array of our state’s award-winning cheese and to honor the dairy farmers of Wisconsin.”

The concept that food-related endeavors are viable, actionable vehicles for entrepreneurship is already well established in the region. Southern Wisconsin boasts the largest agriculture employment base in the state. According to the Madison Region Economic Partnership, there are nearly 60,000 jobs directly related to agriculture, comprising 20% of Wisconsin’s total agricultural employment. Regional infrastructure supports food & beverage production, processing, packaging, and distribution.

Madame Chu owner Josey serves up samples of her sauceMadison’s unique food infrastructure, traditions, and facilities, all play a role in supporting and strengthening our food system. For example, the Dane County Farmers Market is a beloved weekly event focused on sales of local agricultural products, the FEED Kitchens provides flexible commercial cooking opportunities for entrepreneurs and community members, the Garver Feed Mill is a new home to growing, “second stage” food companies, and Madison College offers a array of culinary training programs and credentials. The Madison Public Market is designed to complement and build on Madison’s existing strengths and assets in the food economy.

Kennelly believes the Public Market will be Madison’s next treasured public place. He and others who envision the Public Market’s success see it as a destination for everyone, where you can purchase fresh vegetables and baked goods, stop in for lunch, or have dinner and late night drinks with friends.

After all, says Kennelly, “We are a food city.”

Design Planning Update

The City of Madison and the Public Market Design Team led by MSR Design are making steady progress on completing the site plan and floor plan for our Madison Public Market.

The first round of initial design concepts were released at our Sneak Peak celebration on May 8. Those designs can be found below. If you have questions or would like to provide comments on the design, please send them to info@madisonpublicmarket.org.

The next round of design plans will be available towards the end of July for your input, ideas and inspiration. The City is looking to host a public information meeting at the beginning of August, so that our community has a chance to be involved in the final stage of the design planning. We’ll send out an announcement as soon as that date is confirmed.

If you have questions or would like to provide comments on the design, please send them to info@madisonpublicmarket.org.

Madison Public Market Initial Design Concepts

Existing Site



Proposed Site Access


MPM Floor Plan Concept
Proposed Floor Plan Concept


Areas surrounding the Madison Public Market (top left: bike path crossing over the Yahara River, top right: Yahara River, bottom left: Burr Jones Field, bottom right: Burr Jones Park basketball court)

If you have questions or would like to provide comments on the design, please send them to info@madisonpublicmarket.org.

Cap Times: Let’s Eat: Curtis & Cake’s Southern-style confections ‘dress for the occasion’

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March 10, 2019. It’s an experimentation day for Monica O’Connell. Melted butter and whiskey bubble on the stove as she drizzles brown sugar butter rum caramel syrup on a vanilla rum bundt cake, then pulls a chocolate bundt out of the oven.

“Today I am a woman on a mission,” said O’Connell, founder of Curtis & Cake. “It’s time to get these cakes settled.”

O’Connell started Curtis & Cake in 2015, making small-batch, celebratory cakes and sweets with a strong Southern influence. As part of her New Year’s resolution, O’Connell decided to master the art of creating beautiful and boozy bundt cakes. In the 1960s-style kitchen inside the old Friedens Church in Fort Atkinson, O’Connell is on her 12th round of trials.

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Isthmus: Market Equity

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March 7, 2019. Public markets across the country are designed for different purposes — some to retail high-end food to attract business people and tourists. Mayor Paul Soglin has said the Madison Public Market is designed to provide universal access to affordable healthy food throughout the city.

Jamaal Stricklin, president of the Madison Public Market Foundation, says the foundation views the project through a lens of equity. “We wanted to do this to provide entrepreneurship in the food industry and increase entrepreneurship in underserved communities — people of color, women, minorities,” Stricklin says. “What we really want to do is have people express their culture through their offerings.… We want to create more jobs in the food industry, but not just dishwashing jobs. We’re trying to increase opportunities for people.”

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Boardman Clark Law and others drive initial support for Public Market

Boardman Clark announced its flagstone corporate sponsorship during a special “Taste of the Madison Market” event, held on October 18, 2018 in Boardman Clark’s main office in downtown Madison. While the firm’s sponsorship includes a financial commitment of $250,000 over the next five years, the firm has also committed to providing programming and other nonfinancial support of the Market’s various community-focused initiatives, such as the Market Ready Program, which helps entrepreneurs build successful business foundations.

“We are very proud to be supporting the Madison Public Market,” said Richard Heinemann, Managing Partner at Boardman Clark (pictured left). “To us, this project is about more than creating a space to sell goods. It is an investment in the community, a chance to empower underrepresented entrepreneurs, and a great venue to sample Madison’s diverse foods, crafts, and culture.”

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is partnering with the Madison Public Market to create an interactive space that will showcase everything we love about Wisconsin Dairy and our rich heritage of cheesemaking. This special area of the Market will include interactive exhibits, education and delicious cheese and dairy products from Wisconsin.

“We’re excited to create a destination within the Market for locals & visitors alike to celebrate the vast array of our state’s award-winning cheese and to honor the dairy farmers in Wisconsin.” -Suzanne Fanning, VP of Marketing Communications for Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.

Madison Public Market Foundation Board President, Jamaal Stricklin, shared the significance of Boardman Clark and Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin’s early commitments to the project. “This early support of the Market has helped us build momentum for making our Public Market a reality. We are so grateful for Boardman Clark’s early investment. When combined with Dairy Farmer of Wisconsin’s support plus other early gifts, we’re closing in on our first $1 million to support our $4 million capital campaign.”

It’s exciting to see the community step up in a significant way to support the Public Market. If you are interested in joining with us to help bring our project to life, you can donate here or call Amanda White at (608) 698-9104 for more information. Naming and other special, unique recognition opportunities are available.