City approves proposal to redevelop Garver Feed Mill

City approves proposal to redevelop Garver Feed Mill

A historic landmark on Madison’s near-east side could soon see development after decades of deterioration.

City Council members unanimously voted to move forward with a proposal by Baum Development to renovate the Garver Feed Mill, located near Olbrich Gardens.

The mill was once home to a beet factory about a century ago, but for years it has only housed graffiti within its crumbling infrastructure. Madison city officials have worked to redevelop the Garver Feed Mill for years, including a $16 million project back in 2006 that ultimately failed.

More recently, City Council had been considering four different developments for the building. At its Tuesday night meeting, the body approved initial plans to redevelop the mill into an artisan food facility, a nod to its historic produce past.

Council members listened to several speakers at the meeting, all of whom were in support of the project.

“There is no question in my mind that a location that would put food businesses in a beautiful historic building – and next to Olbrich Gardens to boot – would be a destination,” said Nancy Potter, a small business owner on the near-east side who plans to move her cracker store into the renovated feed mill.

“The renovation of this building created as a food hub for processing is historically accurate and is remarkably fitting for this time in history,” said Bryant Moroder of Baum Development.

The proposal would incorporate food businesses – bakers, brewers and more – into the building, with additional acreage dedicated to orchards and gardens. It would also include miniature home units to be used as a sort of hotel for Madison guests.

Out of the four proposals the city’s seen for the space – including projects with room for residential – this isn’t the one Ald. David Ahrens, Disrict 15, would have picked.

“I’m glad there is a decision, [however] I didn’t agree with the decision,” he said. “I thought the better proposal was one that provided assisted living for elderly people in our community.”

Still, Ahrens joined the unanimous vote Tuesday in approval of the new – but old – business model for the historic Garver.

Baum Development and City Council still have to hammer out the details of the proposal in the coming months. If those are approved, the food facility could open up as early as November 2016.