Alliant Energy Center

The assets of the Alliant Energy Center as depicted in this photo illustration include the Exhibtion Hall and Veteran's Memorial Coliseum against Madison's skyline and the Wisconsin State Capitol.

The Alliant Energy Center campus could get a multi-million renovation, including a new arena, and a multi-purpose shopping and hotel district,  under a proposal passed last week by a Dane County committee.

The proposal could include up to $120 million in public funding and $300-400 million in private investments for the 164-acre campus -- one of three options considered that included the most redevelopment.

“I hope that we can move forward on the project that will help drive our local economy and build longevity and viability of this campus,” said District 24 Supervisor Robin Schmidt, a member of the Alliant Energy Strategic Design Committee.

The committee recommended Dane County officials move forward on a master study of the project to determine improvements, costs, and timelines. It also called for an analysis of current, past and potential future customers, and using a neighborhood engagement plan to get public feedback.

Committee members also recommended forming a team of Madison and Dane County staff to consider joint management and investment strategies, and explore options to connect the campus with downtown Madison.

Madison and Dane County could also ask the state to create a tourism/exposition district that would include a tourism revenue stream.

Dane County officials said that would allow the Alliant Energy Center, believed to be the only public venue of its type without a segregated revenue stream, to get revenue from rental car fees, and food/beverage taxes.

Earlier this month, consultants told Dane County supervisors that without a new influx of money the county-owned property, including the aging Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, will continue to lose money and won’t be competitive with other venues.

The Alliant Energy Center had a $758,000 deficit in 2014, and the previous three years saw deficits between $300,000-$500,000, according to the October 2015 Hammes Company study.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi has been a strong opponent of the plan, saying it will cost taxpayers too much. Instead, Parisi said he favored incremental improvement projects outlined in a separate 2015 study done by Markin Consulting.

The motion approved by the Alliant Energy Center Strategic Design Committee on Jan. 20 has been forwarded to committees and will then be taken up by the full county board.

Snag in finding operator for new homeless day shelter

County officials are looking for an operator for a new downtown Madison homeless day shelter after only one proposal came in with a price tag that is too expensive.

The county received a proposal from Stepping Stone to operate the shelter for $450,000 -- $120,000 more than the county has in available funding.

After rejecting the offer, county officials, along with funding partners including the City of Madison and United Way of Dane County, are looking for other options.

District 2 Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner introduced a resolution at the Jan. 21 county board meeting that would take a step back from the process and re-evaluate funding operator levels.

She said that is necessary because the Request for Proposal (RFP) was based on information that is three years old.

Wegleitner also wants the process to include more public feedback on how to move forward with picking an operator. A neighborhood group and downtown developers have opposed the daytime shelter plans, and Wegleitner said this will address some of their concerns.

“We need to slow down and do this right,” Wegleitner said at the Jan. 21 county board meeting.

The county OK’d the purchase of the of the former Messner Inc. site at 1326 E. Washington Ave. for $1.4 million to be used as a homeless day shelter.

An estimated $1 million renovation would include a kitchen, showers, a computer lab and storage and meeting space.

The county had planned to apply for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from the City of Madison in early 2016, and if approved, begin construction and remodeling by spring.

Wegleitner recommended the county wait to apply for a CUP until an operator is found.

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