Judge Doyle Square

The major redevelopment of Judge Doyle Square downtown will include a $1 million bike center. 

PHOTO BY MICHELLE STOCKER

The city staff team overseeing the massive redevelopment of Judge Doyle Square in downtown Madison is recommending Freewheel Community Bike Shop as the operator for a bike center in the $170 million mixed-used project.

Chicago-based Beitler Real Estate Services’ proposal calls for about 3,500 square feet of space, and the city is providing $1 million for the center. The redevelopment of two downtown blocks will also bring a 250-room hotel, retail, commercial space, housing and a new parking structure.

Despite an active bicycling community, no one had responded to the city’s request for proposals to run the bike center at the end of 2016, prompting the city to approach potential operators that had previously expressed interest in the project.

“We were a bit disappointed,” city transportation planner David Trowbridge said.

After the initial lack of response, Freewheel and Roger Charly, owner of Budget Bicycle Center and Machinery Row bicycles, submitted proposals.

“It came down to Freewheel having a social mission as part of their business operation,” Trowbridge said.

Founded in 2003, the nonprofit was formed by a group of local cyclists who wanted to establish an affordable community workshop space and promote cycling. The organization’s workshop and store is currently located at 1804 S. Park St.

Freewheel Community Bike Shop Executive Director Elijah McCloskey said the center’s retail portion would offer new parts, used bicycles and some service work. The center would also offer bicycle classes and expand the group’s nonprofit work, including giving away bicycles and diverting waste from landfills.

McCloskey said if the City Council approves the recommendation, he hopes to facilitate bicycling as a showpiece of Madison’s economy and tourism industry. He also wants the downtown location to act as a resource center.

“Part of what we want to do is act as a gateway to new cyclists to point them to the resources they need for the type of cycling they do,” McCloskey said.

While the current warehouse on South Park Street has a “male and macho” feel, McCloskey said he is hoping the new downtown location will have a more welcoming aesthetic and be more convenient for downtown cyclists.

“I think we could really grow the education programs we have for women, gender non-conforming, college students and people with limited mobility who live downtown,” McCloskey said.

The resolution will be introduced to the City Council Sept. 19 and will be referred to the Pedestrian, Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Commission, Transit and Parking Commission and Finance Committee.

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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.