Madison Public Market proposal could use TIF revenue to close financing gap

MADISON, Wis. – Three Madison alders have introduced an amendment to the city’s 2023 budget proposal that could once again revive the Madison Public Market project.

The amendment proposes using revenue from a tax incremental financing, or TIF, district on the city’s East Side to close the $5.2 million financing gap that put the Public Market project on pause. With a TIF district, the city freezes property values in an area and uses the money generated through growth to fund public projects.

In this case, the alders say the money could be partially used to fund the $20 million Madison Public Market.

The Public Market project has faced several setbacks, the latest of which came in August in the form of a $5.2 million financing gap due to rising construction costs, which put the project in danger of being scrapped.

Some critics argue that the TIF revenue should go toward funding projects on Madison’s South Side rather than the Public Market, but Alder Syed Abbas says there’s enough money to fund both.

“This is not about South Side vs. North Side or East Side vs. West Side. This is a City of Madison project for the public, where there is a huge component of communities of color and social justice,” Abbas said.

The Madison Public Market is planned to replace a city building on Madison’s East Side and would be a hub for local food vendors. Abbas says it would create opportunities for people of color and marginalized groups.

“If this project is on the South Side, North Side, wherever, it has a direct impact on communities of color, low income (people), and people who really need help in the food industry so they can really step up and get on their feet,” Abbas said.

The Common Council will hold meetings for public comment and deliberation on the 2023 budget starting Tuesday and is expected to vote to approve it by the end of the week.