Construction well underway at the Public Market

Demolition and construction at the future Madison Public Market began in earnest late in October of 2023. Since then, much progress has been made, as these photos suggest. Lots of work is necessary to renovate this former Fleet Service building, operated since the 1950’s by the City of Madison. Daniels Construction is the contractor selected by the City to make the Market a reality. The Market is slated to open in May 2025.


Public Market Groundbreaking Event Celebrates Construction Start

A crowd filled with supporters of the Madison Public Market and TruStage MarketReady Hall were on hand Monday, November 27 to officially mark the commencement of the long-awaited project’s construction. Held at the future site of the Market (202 N. First Street, Madison) the event featured remarks from the following:

  • Welcome by Hannah Mohelnitzky, City of Madison Engineering Division Communications
  • City of Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway
  • Madison Public Market Foundation President Karen Crossley
  • TruStage Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Angela Russell
  • Melly Mell’s Catering Owner Carmel Jackson
  • City of Madison District 12 Alder Amani Latimer Burris
  • Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary-Designee Kathy Blumenfeld
  • Dane County Board of Supervisors Chair Patrick Miles
  • Daniels Construction President Sam Daniels

Many of the speakers, including Mayor Rhodes-Conway, Angela Russell of TruStage and Acting Secretary Blumenfeld spoke of the economic benefit the Public Market will have for the community, generating wealth and financial well-being for individuals who are starting new businesses or expanding old ones. Mayor Rhodes-Conway expressed her appreciation for the many  persons who have had a hand in making this day a reality – former mayors, alders, Madison Public Market Foundation members as well as city staff from the Economic Development and Engineering Division.

A video production showing the entire event is available.

Photos below show 1) Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway; 2) Madison Public Market Foundation President Karen Crossley; State of Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Designee Kathy Blumenfeld and Dane County Board of Supervisors Chair Patrick Miles; 3) Alder Amani Latimer Burris; 4) Carmel Jackson, Melli Mel’s Catering; 5) Angela Russell, TruStage Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer;  6) Sam Daniels, President, Daniels Construction; 7) Madison Public Market Foundation board members.


Demolition of Fleet Service Building Begins! Market Construction Underway!

During a visit to the former Fleet Service Building on November 1, it was apparent that the Madison Public Market construction is truly underway! Crews from Daniels Construction are now on site and have begun the interior demolition of the building. First step is to remove the overhead fluorescent lighting. Walls to be removed are marked for demolition. Construction is expected to be completed by early 2025.

Dane County Board provides $1M in additional funding; Market construction set to begin

The Dane County Board, already an important backer and funding source for the Madison Public Market, voted 30-3 on October 19 to provide and additional $1 million towards the Market’s completion. This is a final piece of financing that will allow the project to move toward a 2025 opening. The county’s contribution to the market’s financing comes after the Madison City Council voted to borrow about $1.6 million to help close a budget gap after construction bids came in higher than expected. The market will be funded with $11.5 million in city tax increment financing, $849,000 in city funds, up to $3 million in private donations, $4.25 million from state programs and an additional $1.5 million that Dane County approved last year. With the funding issues resolved, the Madison Public Market Foundation can begin next steps towards creating the operating structure that will run the Market. The City expects to begin construction within the next 60 days. You can read media coverage of the County Board decision on the In The News page.

Madison Common Council approves funds to begin Market’s construction

After a lengthy discussion at the October 17 meeting of the Madison Common Council, the alders voted 15-3 to provide the necessary funding to favorably respond to the lowest construction bid, which must be enacted by October 24. The City Council has added $1.64 million to the project after construction bids came in over budget in September. This allows the construction on the long awaited to public market project to begin as early as November of this year. Read all about this extremely favorable development in coverage provided by local media, including the Cap Times, Wisconsin State Journal and Isthmus.

Call to Action! Write to your alder in support of the Market!

This is an urgent request to Madison Public Market supporters! If you believe in the Public Market and its’ potential to be an amazing resource for small businesses as well as its’ future as a beloved Madison destination, the time is now to write to your City of Madison alder. Once again, we’ve reached a critical, make-or-break situation.

“What’s up?”, you may ask. Here goes:

The City’s Engineering Department sent the Market’s construction project out to bid a few months ago, with an estimated budget of $12.5 million. When the bids were opened on September 14, the lowest construction bid received is about $15.2 million. To close this gap in funds available, alders will introduce amendments to the 2023 Capital Budget. Amendments make note of an effort by Dane County to provide $1M in additional funding. Also, upon approval, the City is authorized to seek reimbursement via TID funding. The primary amendment requests an additional $2.2M from City funds; the secondary amendment requests $1.6M.

A vote on funding will occur at the October 17 Common Council meeting. Approval requires the affirmative vote of 15 council members. You can read more about the alders’ efforts here. The construction bid process closes on October 24. If funds are not identified, the bid will not be awarded, and the Market will be delayed, possibly forever. 

Alders need to hear from you regarding why you think that providing the necessary funds are essential. We ask that you encourage alders to approve the request for $2.2M, as this will allow for important improvements to the facility that will greatly enhance the visitor experience. Your voice is critical to convincing them that the Market has substantial public support.

Please write to your alder as soon as possible, and well before the October 17 Common Council meeting.

Here’s a sample message for you to copy and send, although we encourage you to write your own personal note:

I write in support of efforts to provide the necessary funds critical to the construction of the Madison Public Market. The Market, along with the TruStage MarketReady Hall food-related entrepreneur space will provide essential business services to women, members of the BIPOC community, and first-generation immigrants seeking inexpensive business start-up opportunities. The Market offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a fun, lasting and highly regarded public benefit.

Need some more important messages for the alders? Here are some important facts.

The vacant Fleet Services building, in the heart of the vibrant Capitol East neighborhood, is the gateway to downtown, close to the airport and the interstate and will spur economic growth and activity for the surrounding area. The building’s vibrant art-filled atmosphere will be Madison’s next great public place. Repurposing an ideally suited City-owned building makes economic sense and promotes sustainability.

The former Fleet Services building’s 45,000 square feet allows for one of the largest and most unique markets in the Midwest. Re-purposing a building in great shape that the City already owns makes more economic sense, and is more environmentally sustainable, than building new.

The building’s open space with no columns, 2-story high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows covering nearly all of its outer walls allows for ample natural light. Its’ unique retro feel will make for a very fun atmosphere. The location has a high volume of traffic, benefits from excellent transit access, and sits along the Mifflin Street Bicycle Corridor. It is adjacent to Burr Jones Park as well as the Yahara River.

The Market will have a significant positive economic impact – creating jobs for young adults, seniors and the employment disadvantaged while supporting new businesses. The benefit to the regional economy is estimated at $21 million per year. This accounts for the ripple effects of the jobs and economic activity that will occur at the market. Over 250 businesses have stated formal interest in renting a space.

The proposed site is in the vicinity of many low-income persons who would benefit greatly from the market’s healthy foods and employment opportunities. Is part of the densely populated and growing Capitol East District economic corridor. According to the analysis, the site offers the best economic opportunity for local artisans and entrepreneurs in terms of disposable income available to residents in the immediate area.

The Public Market and TruStage MarketReady Hall will be a place where an entrepreneur with a unique idea for a new food product, or a new business idea, can launch their business and bring that idea to reality. The emphasis is on allowing these small businesses to rent space on a part-time, low commitment and low overhead basis.

Cap Times: Madison Public Market funding proposal increases by $3.3 million

The Cap Times has reported on September 28 that City Council member Sabrina Madison has introduced a budget amendment to pay the extra money needed to build the long-awaited Madison Public Market, but her proposal depends on more help from Dane County.

The lowest bid from a contractor to reconstruct the building came in this month at $15.2 million, which is $2.7 million more than originally estimated and about $1.64 million more than the city can spend without additional funding approval. Madison officials cited inflated construction and labor costs as a reason the bids came in higher than expected.

Madison, the alder for District 17, partnered on her funding proposal with Ald. Regina Vidaver of District 5, and their plan would commit nearly $2.3 million in additional city money toward the project to help meet the total estimated costs including construction and furnishings.

An additional $1 million would come from Dane County if approved by the County Board.

If the City Council chooses to move forward with the project, approximately $1.64 million would be enough to fund the original budget for reconstruction. However, to buy furnishings, fixtures and equipment would add another $1.64 million to the project for a total of $3,279,755 beyond the current project budget. Read the Cap Times article Madison Public Market funding proposal increases by $3.3 million. Also, Dean Mosiman of the Wisconsin State Journal wrote an informative article that describes efforts to fully fund the Market following the higher than anticipated construction bids. Madison Council members propose $3.3M for Public Market traces the history of the Market project and provides insight into the current predicament.

Update: Alder looks to close latest funding gap

The Cap Times reported on September 19 that Alder Sabrina Madison intends to submit an amendment to the 2023 Capital Budget, seeking to further fund the construction of the Market. She and others will ask that an additional $1.6M be approved.

“I am interested in seeing the project through because I believe the economic and social impact it will have on the city is immeasurable,” said Madison, the alder for District 17, who was a member of the Market Ready Advisory Committee in 2017 to help select the entrepreneurs who will take part in the eventual market.

The City of Madison has two options in regard to the low bid by the contractor.  The first is to do nothing, in which case the project will not move forward.  The second is to amend the 2023 Capital Budget in the weeks ahead to add $1,641,071 to the Public Market budget. Alder Madison’s proposed amendment meets that condition.

Moving forward, the Council will likely introduce the resolution at the October 3rd Common Council meeting to both approve the bid/contract and amend the 2023  Capital Budget Public Market project by a minimum of $1,641,071.  The resolution would be referred to Board of Public Works on October 4th, to Finance Committee on October 9th, and back to Council for action on October 17th.

You can read the Cap Times article here.

In Memoriam: Leslie Watkins

Leslie Watkins

We mourn the passing of our friend and former Madison Public Market Foundation board member Leslie Watkins. She died March 5, 2023 at her Madison home surrounded by family and friends after a battle with pancreatic cancer. A Wisconsin State Journal article describes her as “the brightest light in any room”. Leslie was an entrepreneur, marketing expert, community advocate, retail guru and arts impresario. With her stationery store Paperteria, she became one of the first female African American retailers in Downtown Madison. She will be missed by many friends, family and associates.

Madison Public Market Foundation announces major private funding partners

CUNA Mutual Group, Boardman Clark, Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation among others provide major investments in the construction of the Madison Public Market

The Madison Public Market Foundation is pleased to announce that over the course of the last few years, a variety of corporate and philanthropic leaders have provided gifts to the Madison Public Market’s construction project, providing significant impetus towards making Madison’s first public market a reality. Among the list of prominent contributors is CUNA Mutual Group, who along with the City of Madison, State of Wisconsin, and Dane County, has provided a lead gift to the project.

CUNA Mutual Group’s generous gift of $1.5 million, one of several donations by Madison-area companies and foundations, is made specifically towards the creation of a proposed food innovation facility. To be known as TruStage MarketReady Hall, the facility will be located within the Public Market. Recently, CUNA Mutual Group announced its plans to unify its businesses under the single, TruStage brand, in 2023.

“CUNA Mutual Group believes a brighter financial future should be accessible to all,” said Robert N. Trunzo, president and CEO of CUNA Mutual Group. “We’re excited to invest in this project and support an innovative facility that will help our community’s entrepreneurs access the critical space and equipment they need to create and maintain thriving businesses in Madison.”

Many entrepreneurs who dream of scaling up their businesses, such as food carts and catering services, face insurmountable barriers due to the high cost of commercial kitchen facilities. TruStage MarketReady Hall will provide affordable access to specialized commercial equipment and facilities, assisting entrepreneurs in taking their food-based business to the next level of production and success. One of the benefits of locating a shared commercial production kitchen within the Public Market is the community and entrepreneurial support that will be built into the facility. TruStage MarketReady Hall is an integral component of the proposed Madison Public Market, a vital public gathering place intended to support diverse, minority-owned businesses, create jobs and new businesses, while creating a vibrant, welcoming celebration of food and culture.

According to Karen Crossley, Madison Public Market Foundation Board President, the CUNA Mutual Group gift, in addition to a variety of other private investments, has offers a significant boost to the Market’s fundraising activity.  Importantly, it enables the Public Market to support entrepreneurs in an inclusive, community-based facility that will provide major impact for the growth of small and minority-owned businesses. “We are very excited that Madison Public Market has been a priority among philanthropic leaders and that CUNA Mutual Group sees the Market to be complementary to the company’s purpose to make brighter financial futures accessible to all. We are confident that TruStage MarketReady Hall will support a variety of regional and local entrepreneurs and startups, offering significant economic benefits to many companies and individuals.”

The Madison Public Market wishes to acknowledge the generous gifts of a variety of donors. Thanks to the support of the following contributors, and a total of 300 gifts to the Market from

individuals, companies, and foundations, the Madison Public Market Foundation has achieved its goal of raising $3 million in support. Major contributors to the project include lead gifts from City of Madison, State of Wisconsin, Dane County and CUNA Mutual Group, as well as:

$100,000 – $500,000

  • Boardman Clark
  • Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation
  • Anonymous Donor

$10,000 – $99,000

  • Madison Gas & Electric Foundation
  • Evjue Foundation
  • Heartland Credit Union
  • Old National Bank
  • Madison Community Foundation
  • American Family Insurance Company
  • Hooper Corporation
  • Dan and Natalie Erdman
  • Karen and Alan Crossley
  • Laura Heisler and Steve Goldstein
  • Willa Schlecht
  • Trey and Shelly Sprinkman
  • Sue Goldwomon

Community members who have not yet contributed are still welcome to give. The Madison Public Market Foundation has recently launched a finale funding campaign – Ready, Set, Market! – to raise a final $500,000 to set up our vendors for success, to create culturally rich community spaces and to ensure the Market thrives beginning on day one. Everyone who gives during this

brief campaign will be named on our “Global Table” donor wall at the Market. To donate, visit

About the Madison Public Market

The Madison Public Market is a collaboration between the City of Madison, which owns the former Fleet Services building at First Street and East Johnson Street, and the Madison Public Market Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization which will operate the Madison Public Market. The City is in the process of preparing construction bids to renovate the existing structure, a 1960s era industrial garage ideally designed and sized for the proposed Market activities. The Market is intended to be a cherished and inclusive community gathering space with food, art, music, and events that will bring an estimated 500,000 people together each year.

The Madison Public Market Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that will manage and operate the Market.

Market construction is expected to begin in late 2023. Completion is expected in early 2025. To learn more about the proposed Madison Public Market, visit