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Parking is a Big Problem, but Not the Only One



Development proposals come and go. In the Cap East District along East Washington, they are coming fast. I follow along as a resident, a home-owner, a parent, but like all of us, I pick and choose when to get involved.

Proposals are just that, after all. They all will not come to be.

The proposal on the table now for a music venue next to Lapham Elementary School is one that warrants careful attention. Looking at the details, I think this particular project has the potential to permanently degrade many of the things that make our neighborhood so great.

Like everyone I’ve talked to, the first issue of concern is parking, which is related to traffic. Many of us live downtown because we mostly go car-free. I want development that pushes for smart transportation solutions that discourage car use. As it is proposed, this one doesn’t make the mark.

Can the proposal be fixed? Maybe. It depends in part on Frank Productions, and if they will be an asset and ally in the neighborhood.

The Logistics of the Proposal:

Frank Productions has proposed to build a 2,500 seat music venue as part of the Stone House development. The proposal includes a 200 stall parking garage that would be shared with other tenants of the development.

Cars would come and go via Ingersoll and Brearly streets.  There is no East Washington access, which means all cars coming and going will cross the Mifflin Street Bike Boulevard. 

Frank Production estimates 2-3 shows a week, though this is not a firm commitment.

On one side of the development is BreeseStevens Stadium, which has a capacity of 4,000. It is owned by the City of Madison and managed by the Parks Department. The historic stadium has just received its biggest facelift ever, paid for by the City, so that it can host more sporting events and concerts.

With the Constellation now built and "filled to capacity," parking is a problem already. It is 12 stories tall and has 275 parking stalls. The construction for the Galaxie next door is underway.



Parking is tight in the neighborhood. Mifflin St. and Paterson St. on a Monday afternoon (before people presumably return from work) are full of cars, even without the coming Galaxie multi-destination high-rise.

Traffic and parking are obviously going to be a problem. 

The Bike Boulevard, which the City is working hard to promote in attempts to winmore first place prizes for being livable and bike-friendlywill not work with all this new traffic. 

The residential side of East Washington cannot support the traffic or parking that this size venue would need. Without any changes to the current proposal, this would cause significant disruptions for the neighborhood. We would be looking at a lot more vehicles looking for parking nearby the venue at least 2-3 times a week. With most shows getting out between 11 PM-12 AM and the venue not closing till 1 AM, the impact on the residential neighborhood would be significant.

I like music, I think live music is part of a vibrant downtown, and I want the neighborhood to thrive. But this is not the right proposal, it is not the right project, and Frank Productions is not the right company for our neighborhood.

Now is the time to get involved.

This week, yet another proposal was unveiled. This one includes a 1,500 seat performance space.  It would be on the Other Side of East Washington (directly across from the Gallaxie on the 800 block), away from Lapham School and the residential neighborhood. This makes much more sense, and would complement the High Noon Saloon and Brink Lounge nearby.

I just hope that the music promoters and their developers are not playing out some personal feud in our neighborhood and that we can pick and choose among proposals what is right for the community.  In the Isthmus article, Tag Evers of Frank Productions said he had no comment the new proposal. "We're moving forward with ours, planning to break ground next spring and be open a year later."

A friend and lawyer who rents a house on Mifflin Street, where she has raised her two East High School kids, told me she was “trusting the process” on this one. She attends the Steering Committee Meetings and is getting involved, which is the only way the process works. [The next Steering Committee Meeting is on Monday, October 13 from 7-9 PM in the Community Room of the Constellation.]

And importantly, a coalition of neighbors who support smart restrictions on this development is growing. In order to shape this and future development, we’ll need to do things like restrict visitor parking on neighborhood streets, hold the developers to their promises, and work with the City and traffic engineers to make it easier to cross East Washington

If you care about these things, please email Alder Zellers, TLNA president Joe Lussen, and the Steering Committee chairman David Waugh. It’s important to put your concerns in writing. 


11 comments:

  1. If you look at the Frank productions presentation to the neighborhood (link below), they showed three venues comparable to what they envision. All of those venues have ample parking and are not in residential neighborhoods (thank you google maps). Two are within blocks of stadiums, one is in an area more akin to state street, with residences at least two blocks away and little to no traffic would end up in those neighborhoods. I looked at their calendars, they are putting on 3-4 shows a week this month. This venue does not belong in the neighborhood.
    BTW, One of them has ICP coming this month, I for one don't want 2,000 juggalos in the neighborhood...ever.

    http://www.cityofmadison.com/council/district/districtfiles/district2/documents/Frank%20Productions%20Neighborhood%20Meeting%20Presentation%207-24-14.pdf

    Google map links for the venues referenced in the presentation.
    Stage AE in Pittsburg: http://tinyurl.com/opwtdvw
    Lifestyle Communities Pavilion in Columbus: http://tinyurl.com/qhv5hyp
    Pageant in St. Louis: http://tinyurl.com/nl56z3e

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  3. What happens if they can't compete, business is slow, or another recession hits and the Franks Bros are tight on money? Are they going to keep the bar open until 2am to make ends meet? Would the city stop them if it needed to recoup TIF money? What if they go out of business? What else can you do with a 2500 seat venue besides use it as a 2500 seat venue?

    So many unanswered questions.

    And no, I don't want to navigate through 2,000 juggalos with my kindergartener on our way to swimming classes in the evenings.

    Interested parents are invited to come to the Lapham PTG monthly meeting to discuss this on Tues Oct. 14th at 5:45. Free childcare and pizza is provided during the meeting.

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    1. Thanks, Jesse. Can parents come to the PTG meeting if their kids are not yet at Lapham, or already graduated on to another school, or schooled elsewhere?

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  4. I agree with concerns surrounding parking and loud music.

    But is having a music venue any worse than having an abandoned, crumbling, asbestos filled manufacturing plant deteriorating in our neighborhood?

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    1. Thanks for your comment, and it's a great point: I'm excited by all the projects in the mix and can envision a truly beautiful East Washington boulevard leading into the downtown. I want that spot to be something great and was excited to have a proposal for development. But when I started doing research to write this, I started actually thinking through the details. I can no longer get behind the idea of having a large venue right next to Breese Stevens, both together bringing a huge increase in traffic, and related parking problems. The proposed parking plan just doesn't compute. Perhaps the proposal can be amended to work better...but that means we neighbors need to get involved in the process. Adding parking to the development does not bring in revenue, which is why the proposed lot is so small, and they will not enlarge it without pressure.

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  5. All-

    This is Chris with bark design-

    I can assure you we are not "playing out some personal feud in our neighborhood".

    We have been looking at the south side of the 800 block for a music venue and commercial uses for some time.

    What we are trying to accomplish on the south side is an integrated development that will also give StartingBlock a much needed home base. We firmly believe in StartingBlock's mission and believe they are a critical element to the Corridor and community.

    In addressing both of these great tenants (in addition to several others) we thought it made the most sense to keep the parking, traffic, and potential disruptions in an area that would generate the least amount of impact at established neighborhoods.

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    1. Thank you Chris, for reading and joining the conversation.

      To clarify for others, and make sure I'm right: You/Bark Designs work with Otto Gebhardt, which has recently proposed a project that includes a smaller (1,500 seat) music venue on the 800 block East Wash.

      This is the side of the street with MG&E, not Lapham Elementary School (north/south doesn't exactly describe the neighborhood well and is an unclear orientation for neighbors).

      I completely agree that side is better suited to a music hall since it is located farther from single family homes and the Lapham Elementary School where parking is ample!

      Again, thanks. And let me know if I've gotten any details wrong.

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    2. Jessica- you are correct- we are working with Otto on the south side of East Washington, which is the last Don Miller parcel and is currently vacant. The neighbors at that location are MGE and the old fur place, which is the new home to a few restaurants, whose names I unfortunately can't remember right now!!

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    3. Thanks. I also should say that the StartingBlock component is appealing to me!

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