May 09 2014

Mixed-Use Communities Become the “Norm” in Wisconsin’s Capital

The Constellation, Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin is currently experiencing a rise in mixed-use developments, especially in the downtown area and near east side. This change from primarily single-use to mixed-use projects prompted many locals to ask, “Why?”

There are a few factors contributing to this shift – the first being Madison’s move away from automobile-oriented neighborhoods. Madison is a college city, and therefore the number of young students and professionals in the downtown area is exceptionally high. Mixed-use developments are well known for having access to good public transportation, which is attractive to many downtown urban dwellers. In addition, these dense urban settlements are very appealing to new businesses and restaurants looking for a strong customer base.

The Constellation, Madison, Wisconsin

A second factor contributing to the rise in Madison’s mixed-use developments is due to the city’s relatively new Zoning Code. The last Zoning Code rewrite took place in 1966 and was in need of dire updates. One of the main objectives of the new code is to increase mixed-use zoning districts and attendant regulations both for the downtown and lands at the urban edge. The new code also aims to link land use and transportation in order to promote public transit use.

Adoption of the new zoning map and text amendments by the Common Council happened on October 16th, 2012, and they went into effect on January 2nd, 2013. Madison’s urban planning staff is continually tweaking the new code; however, locals are already seeing some positive outcomes from the rewrite.

Among the various mixed-use projects that have been completed in the past year is The Constellation building on the near east side, within view of the capitol building. This twelve story mixed-use development offers over 30,000 square feet of commercial space on the first three floors and 220 apartments on eight floors above the 275 stall parking structure. This is the first of hopefully many mixed-use projects seeking to revitalize the neighborhood.

Is your town or city seeing a rise in mixed-use developments?

Credits: Images by Kaylie Duffy. Data linked to sources.

Kaylie Duffy

Kaylie Duffy is currently pursuing a B.A. in Environmental Studies, Geography, and Russian Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. While writing and photographing for the university’s student newspaper, The Badger Herald, she developed a passion for architecture and sustainable urban planning and design. Her other interests include traveling, reading, writing, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. She stays connected to her community by volunteering in neighborhood gardens and at her city's Literacy Network. Kaylie hopes to eventually pursue a Masters in Urban Planning and GIS in order to develop more walkable and bike friendly cities across the U.S. She is now busy discovering how Madison, WI is becoming one of the greenest medium sized cities in the country.

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This entry was posted on Friday, May 9th, 2014 at 9:43 am and is filed under Architecture, Community/Economic Development, Housing, Transportation, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “Mixed-Use Communities Become the “Norm” in Wisconsin’s Capital”

  1. Mary Says:

    As a long time resident of Madison and a multi-modal transportation planner, with a graduate degree in Urban and Regional planning, I feel compelled to post a correction to this post. While Madison did recently adopt a new zoning code that formally allows mixed use development, the city has been approving mixed use development for 20 or so years. Downtown and the near east and west sides can boast established mixed use neighborhoods with vibrant bike/walk/transit mode shares.

    The new mixed use development happening near the capital does have a different look and feel than the historic mixed use development, but I think that change reflects the growing emphasis on density and the maturation of the our city.

  2. Kaylie Duffy Says:

    Thank you Mary for your correction. As a downtown resident, I have had the privilege of watching the city’s center grow over the past few years. What prompted me to write this blog was that many of my neighbors, professors and classmates have noticed a rise in mixed-use developments, especially in the downtown area. I am well aware that Madison has been approving mixed use developments for a couple decades; however, I would argue that the adoption of the new zoning code has made this process easier and more favorable toward developers.

    That being said, I am not as knowledgable about the outer edges of Madison, and indeed the growing density of our city has changed the look of mixed-use developments.

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