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.
The 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
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 [email protected].
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.