Alliant Energy Center Redevelopment Newsletter Spring 2021
The Dane County Fair (July 15-18) and World Dairy Expo (Sept. 28 - Oct. 2) will both be returning to the Alliant Energy Center Campus in 2021!
Alliant Energy Center - The Wheels Keep Turning
A year ago, when we watched things slowly close down around us and the real impact of a global pandemic was only beginning to become apparent, most of us were focusing on what was ending— schools and businesses closing, sporting events and meetings cancelled, travel plans delayed, etc. For the Alliant Energy Center, however, in relatively short order, that focus shifted from what was ending and being cancelled to what was beginning, and that has remained a major focus for the past 12+ months. Today, the Alliant Energy Center is not only regarded as a major event venue that hosts some of our region’s most significant gatherings, it is now also synonymous with being the COVID-19 Emergency Response headquarters. The Alliant Energy Center campus has risen to serve as a critical hub during this pandemic.
Simultaneously, as the campus evolved to serve essential community functions, the facility management team was busy preparing for the time when “normal” business would return. This preparation included achieving a crucial accreditation for cleaning processes and practices, investing in important facility maintenance and putting systems in place to ensure a smooth transition when event booking begins again. The county invested in preparing those things that would help create a strong path forward for our post-pandemic community and our region. Even though it is sometimes hard to see beyond the confines of social distancing and limitations on our ability to gather in person, we know planning and diligence now will have positive and important impacts on the future. Read Executive Director Brent McHenry’s article below to learn more about how he and his staff are preparing the Alliant Energy Center campus’ future.
As we continue to maintain our long-term focus on the redevelopment plans for the Alliant Energy Center campus, considering how to best utilize the property to accommodate a variety of critical local and regional community needs remains top-of-mind. We have not wavered from the commitment to elevate and expand the benefit of this iconic Dane County venue. The Alliant Energy Center Redevelopment Committee convened in January and March and has kicked off an important RFP (request for proposal) process related to the redevelopment effort. This is a significant next step as the committee, the county and other community stakeholders work together to support and enhance this vital community asset for the short and long-term. And, exciting progress is also being made to bring to life the vision for the development of a Destination District on the land adjacent to and surrounding the campus, including a mixed-use project recently proposed by the McGrath Property Group.
Thanks for your continued support and commitment to planning for a strong future for Dane County!
Patrick Miles, Dane County Supervisor Chair, Alliant Energy Center Redevelopment Committee
AN UPDATE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTORAlliant Energy Center
Executive Director, Brent Hyzer-McHenry
“The Alliant Energy Center is a multipurpose facility for good times and bad times,” explains Alliant Energy Center’s Executive Director Brent McHenry. “I’m proud we have been able to offer the facility to support emergency response. It’s a testament to what this facility is for and how quickly it can be adapted to meet a wide range of community needs.”
For the last year, the Alliant Energy Center has been the hub of Dane County’s response to the pandemic and its repercussions. It continues to be a primary site for drive-through COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. It has provided a safe space for Second Harvest Food Bank to assemble and distribute food to many thousands of residents who would otherwise face hunger. It’s been used for education sessions such as nurse training. During warmer months it became the home of the Dane County Farmer’s Market and a place where folks could access food trucks.
While the Alliant Energy Center has been answering the call to support emergency and public health responses, it also has been busy preparing for when it will again be able to return to its pre-pandemic mission — to manage and operate first-rate venues for local, regional, national and international events and, consequently, provide significant economic and quality of life benefits to the Dane county community. McHenry says the Alliant Energy Center is anticipating a mid-summer reopening to welcome back clients and events. He says clients are excited to return, and many have already booked their events.
Click below to learn more about the Alliant Energy Center's recent attainment of the very important GBAC STAR rating as well as the RFP issued for a Master Developer for the Alliant Energy Center Redevelopment.
The Alliant Energy Center is a key regional asset that serves as a dynamic convening campus providing an exceptional and authentic
experience for the community and visitors alike. The seamlessly integrated campus serves as a catalyst for a vibrant destination district driving tax base growth and increased access to economic opportunity for area residents.
DESTINATION DISTRICT UPDATE Q&A With Task Force Chair, Pam Christenson Director of Economic Development, Madison Gas and Electric
Q: WHAT IS THE VISION FOR THE DESTINATION DISTRICT? A:The vision for the vast amount of space surrounding and adjacent to the Alliant Energy Center is to create a go-to Destination District anchored by an activated lakefront and parks and a revamped Alliant Energy Center integrated with new lakeview housing, restaurants and hotels; all seamlessly knit together and connected to Downtown, Park Street and adjacent neighborhoods. See here for a copy of the Destination District Vision document.
Q: WHO CREATED THE VISION? A:This is a public-private effort that was one of the key vision foundations that were clearly mapped out as part of the lengthy Alliant Energy Center Master Plan process. Creating a cohesive, thoughtful plan for this underutilized area was recognized as an important way to build a critical mass of activity that will benefit visitors and the community. This in an ad hoc group of partners that includes Madison Gas and Electric, Destination Madison Foundation, Alliant Energy, the City of Madison, Dane County, local business people and neighborhood residents.
Q: WHAT IS SPARKING YOUR PASSION FOR THIS EFFORT AND IS SOMETHING YOU WANT OTHERS TO KNOW ABOUT THE DESTINATION DISTRICT VISION? A:I’m excited about this effort because I truly believe it is the next “big thing” for our community in terms of creating momentum that will have many positive ripple effects across the area - and the region. There is so much potential in this area and the opportunities are incredible. One key factor is the opportunity to strengthen south Madison neighborhoods' access and connection to the parks, lake Monona and all the amenities an activated Destination District will embody. I remember thinking this same thing about the East Washington corridor, and we see how the vision for that area has really come to fruition and serves as a critical hub for entertainment, culture, economic development and quality of life.
Q: HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR THIS VISION TO COME TO FRUITION? A:I would definitely describe this as more of a marathon than a sprint. It will take time for the pieces to come together to realize the entire vision. We have, however, already started to see some strong interest on the development side of the equation and we’ve seen progress on some related city, county and state projects that will support the vision.
Q: WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF PROGRESS THAT IS ALREADY BEING MADE TO BRING THE VISION TO LIFE? A:One of the key indicators of success, for me, is the creation of public-private partnerships. At this point, we are seeing many entities getting involved and partnerships beginning to develop around various aspects of the effort. We are already starting to see a few projects getting some momentum. One is the McGrath Property Group mixed-use project that was recently announced on the north side of Olin Ave. at John Nolen Dr. This is the kind of project that is in keeping with the vision for adding development that includes business and a range of mixed-income housing and adds to the vibrancy of the area surrounding the Alliant Energy Center Campus. I think this is an example of some oars being put in the water and beginning to row in the same direction. The City's acquisition of the Wisconsin Medical Association building at the north end of Olin Park would be another.
Q: WHAT ROLE DOES THE DESTINATION DISTRICT TASK FORCE PLAY IN SUPPORTING THE VISION? A:The task force has played an invaluable role in advancing the vision for the Destination District. Because task force members represent so many different stakeholder groups, they serve as an important sounding board for the various aspects of how to bring the vision to life and have been strong advocates for coordinated implementation of the vision. The task force has provided critical feedback in terms of bringing diverse perspectives to the table and providing a sense of community wants and needs. Our goal as a task force is to optimize the vision and help ensure that growth of this key geographical area happens in a thoughtful, intentional way that serves many populations – including both residents and visitors who come to Madison for business and personal reasons.
PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT BY MCGRATH PROPERTY GROUP COMPLEMENTS DESTINATION DISTRICT VISION McGrath Property Group is exploring a development on the site of the current Coliseum Bar & Banquet and The Wonder Bar Steakhouse on e. Olin Ave. The proposal is for an 18-story structure which would include apartments, commercial space and parking. The proposal, which is at the city approval phase, is in keeping with the Destination District vision for having mixed-use development with mixed-income housing that adds vibrancy to the area and capitalizes on access to lakes, bike paths and parks.
DESTINATION MADISON WELCOMES NEW LEADER Ellie Westman Chin, President & CEO
When long-time community champion and Destination Madison President & CEO, Deb Archer, announced her retirement in 2020, it was hard to imagine anyone could step into this role and bring a comparable level of energy, expertise and positivity to the role. But when you meet Ellie Westman Chin, the organization’s new president & CEO, you realize it is probably only a matter of time before this newcomer is able to meet Archer’s level of understanding of the community – and that she is already armed with the energy, expertise and passion for supporting and growing the Greater Madison area.
Within minutes of meeting Westman Chin, you can sense her growing passion for her new home as she is actively – as much as possible during the pandemic - exploring the city’s many assets. It’s also clear she brings much more than a tourist perspective. Westman Chin most recently served as President & CEO of Visit Franklin in Tennessee and has a long career in the tourism and hospitality industry. Westman Chin is quick to sing the praises of Madison as a new resident but also recognizes the many attributes that make Madison a top visitor spot.
Click button below to learn more about Destination Madison's new President & CEO
MAJOR STEP FORWARD COUNTY SEEKS MASTER DEVELOPER TO HELP BRING CAMPUS MASTER PLAN TO LIFE
A significant step toward advancing the Alliant Energy Center Redevelopment effort was launched this spring with the issuing of a request for proposals (RFP) for a Master Developer. The RFP process is intended to identify a professional, highly-experienced Master Developer to implement an award-winning, comprehensive, full-campus redevelopment in the hopes of expanding and enhancing the Alliant Energy Center facilities and grounds and bringing new events to the 164-acre campus.
“As we emerge from the challenges of the past year, this project offers opportunity for economic invigoration while bringing new events to Dane County,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said. Wisconsin State Journal, March 26, 2021
The ultimate goal of the Master Developer is to bring to life the detailed Campus Master Plan that was completed in 2018 as a result of a multi-year effort to develop a strategic vision and market-driven, financially sustainable design and plan for the entire Alliant Energy Center campus. The multi-phase Campus Master Plan outlines strategies for redeveloping the campus and enhancing the adjacent property to create a Destination District that serves as a vital and thriving community gathering space that is flexible to support a variety of programming. The county’s hope is to serve Alliant Energy Center campus visitors, reinforce the regional character of Dane County and create a sense of place.