Local News

Major renovation proposed for downtown Madison

City leaders claim biggest overhaul since 1973 in the works

MADISON, Wis - Downtown Madison is getting a major overhaul -- something it hasn't seen since 1973.

City leaders hope to start a $4.5 million renovation of the State Street and Library Mall area by next April.

Electronic kiosks could be coming to the area, and with all the changes being proposed, folks may need the maps to help them navigate the redesigned space.

"The goal was to make this a destination," said District 8 alderman Scott Resnick. "We wanted to focus on the pedestrian and biker safety down here and lights and the overall vibe of the campus area."

The plans for one of the city's most famous spaces include updated lighting, more seating, and wider paths in the 700 and 800 blocks of State Street.

"We're looking at, how do we incorporate food vendors, how do we do new lighting, and really, how do we reconfigure the bike path so students can get to class safely," said Alderman Resnick.

Library Mall's elevated stage and clock tower are slated to be removed, while the fountain currently there is slated to stay.

Resnick said the city and university are working together to make sure the space remains cohesive. "We can say it will be the staging area for the Alumni Park and Memorial Union with the expected completion date somewhere around 2017, 2018."

There are also plans to add a sculpture. And to honor the official state tree, a 12-foot tall sugar maple leaf is being considered for the space.

Madison resident Emmalie Anderson thinks the art work is a great idea. "I used to live in a city that spent a certain percentage on art installations around the city and I kind of miss that."

Kristen Anderson, another resident, agrees. "In the past I've kind of walked through thinking, 'It's kind of barren looking,' so having something more visually interesting would be great. So I think an art installation would be perfect."

Resnick said these plans haven't been finalized. A committee will vote on the designs and then it will be up to the city council.

"This is an area that's really a gateway to the campus and really the connection to the campus and the city of Madison and we want to make sure it counts."

The city is still looking to get input from the public about the design. City leaders are planning meetings to be held at the Memorial Union in the next few weeks. The dates for those meetings are to be announced.

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