The Madison Public Market plan has been delayed for years. The plan was initially delayed during the pandemic, but a current funding gap of $5.25 million is hampering the Public Market's progress.
The total cost estimate for the project is approximately $20 million, and without a grant, the project cannot go underway. In addition, the city withdrew its application for a $3.45 million federal economic development administration grant, according to The Cap Times.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway’s 2023 capital budget does not include funding to tend to the $5.25 million gap. The plan’s financial setback is only getting worse as the costs continue to rise — construction costs are estimated to increase by $1.7 million from the beginning of the year.
County Board Chairman Patrick Miles formally proposed an amendment to the county’s capital budget to borrow and deliver $1.5 million, aiding the financial gap. Miles recognizes the Madison Public Market as a notable opportunity for minority businesses as well as economic and social opportunities.
“I think the public market will be a vehicle for economic opportunity and provide increased access to locally produced foods. I strongly support the project’s goal to increase economic opportunity for low-income populations and people of color,” Miles said.
The Madison Public Market would be located in the former two-story, 45,000 square-foot Fleet Services building at 200 N. First St, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The market’s placement would liven up an area known as a place for traffic and train crossings.
The market would feature a wide variety of entrepreneurs offering cultural cuisines, locally sourced food and arts and crafts. Within the market, the Food Innovation Center would have services and equipment to boost small and minority-owned businesses, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Although the city would own the property, the Madison Public Market Foundation nonprofit would operate it.
Many are fearful that the project aiming to bring a diverse network of fresh produce and food will be abandoned because of the financial gap. The market’s project team, however, continues to promote fundraising efforts and believes that $800,000 to $1 million can be cut from the project.
More Common Council members are able to propose amendments to the 2023 capital budget before the final budget is approved the week of Nov. 14.