Mayor Rhodes-Conway Remarks at Madison South Rotary

This week, the Mayor was invited to speak at the Madison South Rotary meeting and was able to update people on the City’s plans and investments in the area. These are her remarks as prepared. 

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You’ve probably read some of the good news about South Madison in the paper. There have been articles about “South Madison Rising” and a new “renaissance” taking shape. And I’m sure you’ve heard about the great new projects led by community leaders here in South Madison.
There really is a lot happening, so here’s what there is to know about how the City is investing in South Madison.
After an extensive community consultation, the South Madison plan, adopted in 2021, provides a strong vision for economic revitalization, affordable housing and homeownership choices, and strengthening of the community ties that make South Madison “home.”
Partnerships have been crucial and there are a number of residents and community leaders helping to make this vision for South Madison a reality. In just one of many exciting things happening in South Madison, the City has supported Dr. Ruben Anthony and the Urban League of Greater Madison to establish the Black Business Hub. We’ve supported them with land, infrastructure, and parking to help bring this project to fruition. The Hub will create a great space for incubating, supporting, and connecting black entrepreneurs in Madison, right along Park Street.
Centro Hispano plansCentro Hispano just broke ground on their new center last month. The City transferred land that we owned to Centro for the new facility, and then purchased their existing building providing nearly $2 million for their capital campaign.
Centro, under the leadership of Karen Menendez Coller, is now building a 25,000 square foot space that will serve as a cultural and economic hub for the Latinx community. They’ll be able to double the size of their afterschool and workforce programs and create spaces for people to gather indoors and out. And the City now has their old site that we can use to build affordable housing along a key transit route, and across from Madison College to develop for the public good.
Rev. Dr. Alex Gee is leading a team to establish the Center for Black Excellence & Culture in South Madison along Badger Rd. They’ll be creating a beautiful space that will house a theater, space for arts, space for music, fitness, co-working, and more. The City provided them with some predevelopment funds to help plan the project, and advocated for a $5 million federal grant they received from the Governor.
The City is also investing in community needs in other ways. When a local grocery store was closing, the City stepped in to ensure there would be a new grocery within a new development. You might have read a couple of weeks ago that we signed an agreement with Maurer’s Urban Market to run the grocery store as part of the Truman-Olsen complex rising on Park Street.
These are just a few of the projects going on in South Madison. We have already invested over $30 million to bring great work forward in South Madison, but we are not done yet.
You may have also read in the news that Madison just adopted a new Tax Increment Financing District (TID 51) for South Madison. A TID, or sometimes called a TIF District, is an agreement to basically send the same amount of money to the tax rolls that we do now for several years, even though, as new development occurs, there will be more tax revenue. We use the additional taxes that we collect (the new increment) to invest in the community. The idea is that those improvements will generate higher tax revenue in the long run and essentially pay back the money invested through the TID. This is a long-standing process used by many local governments, it has been used all over Madison, and it works.

The new TID is South Madison will be historic, Madison’s largest TID – which we hope will power $115 million for investments in the community.
The timing is perfect, because the City adopted the South Madison Plan relatively recently. The South Madison plan lays out a vision for the community, and now we have a TID to provide the resources to help realize that vision.
Investments from the TID will go to things like:
• Increased land banking in the area to prevent gentrification and encourage positive development;
• Building more housing and homeownership opportunities in South Madison;
• Working on economic revitalization, small business assistance, and creating wealth-building opportunities;
• Improving streets and parks in the neighborhood to create more community space and support community fun;
• Avoiding gentrification and creating wealth-building opportunities;
• Doing to all in a way that works for and invests in the community of folks who live there now.
South Madison is home to some of our most diverse communities. Because it is near downtown and transit, it is facing development pressure. The community has asked us to do what cities around the country are struggling to do – to improve the community without gentrification and displacement.
So avoiding gentrification and creating wealth-building opportunities is a major focus of the plan. Consequently, we’ve put the tools in place to do that. With our new plan, our new TID, our affordable housing fund which leverages hundreds of millions in private investment, and our land-banking policy, we actually have the vision and the resources to do that.
There is so much exciting work happening, and still so much more to come. I am really looking forward to the next several years of activity in South Madison as we build up, invest in and strengthen the South Madison community.
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