1402 South Park Street

The former Truman Olson United States Army Reserve Center property at 1402 S. Park St. has been vacant for several years. 

PHOTO BY ABIGAIL BECKER

After sitting vacant for several years, the former Truman Olson United States Army Reserve Center property on South Park Street could become the nexus of comprehensive reinvestment in the south side, if some Madison officials have their way.

The city bought the property for an estimated $1.1 million from the Defense Department in 2012 and is seeking project proposals from the property’s adjacent neighbors, which include Wingra Building Group, Shenandoah Apartment LLC, Welton Family LTP and Midwest Real Estate Properties.

Ald. Sara Eskrich, District 13, said the city was waiting for the neighboring property owners to be ready for reinvestment. Now that some of the owners have expressed interest in redeveloping, Eskrich said, the city is poised to fulfill goals laid out in the neighborhood plan called Wingra BUILD.

“That offers us the opportunity to put into action some of the key pieces that we’ve asked for from redevelopment like the grocery store, like Cedar Street and trying to get more workforce housing in the area,” Eskrich said.

Wingra BUILD, which stands for better urban infill development, calls for ensuring a grocery store remains in the area, extending Cedar Street through the property to Fish Hatchery Road and developing workforce housing targeted to residents making 50 to 80 percent of the average median income.

It also seeks to minimize city investment in the redevelopment, increase the tax base and increase density consistent with the Wingra BUILD plan and the city’s comprehensive plan.

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The resolution directing city staff to issue a request for proposal to the neighboring owners was introduced at the City Council’s Tuesday meeting.

"We’re seeing activity on some of the surrounding properties from those property owners, and we’re looking to make sure that it develops in a thoughtful well-organized manner," Department of Planning, Community & Economic Development director Natalie Erdman said.

Development on Park Street has been piecemeal, Eskrich said, and has lacked a comprehensive approach. The intersection of Park Street and Fish Hatchery Road should see a mixed use building and the city’s third permanent supportive housing site is slated for the 1200 block of Park Street.

“We want to make sure that we are paying attention — paying the due attention — that is deserved to South Park Street and the south side,” Eskrich said. “Investing in the south side should be done in a meaningful way by the city and in a way that continues to foster the assets on the south side.”

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.