Madison, Wisconsin is currently experiencing a rise in mixed-use developments, especially in the downtown area and near east side. This change from primarily single-use to mixed-use projects prompted many locals to ask, “Why?”
There are a few factors contributing to this shift – the first being Madison’s move away from automobile-oriented neighborhoods. Madison is a college city, and therefore the number of young students and professionals in the downtown area is exceptionally high. Mixed-use developments are well known for having access to good public transportation, which is attractive to many downtown urban dwellers. In addition, these dense urban settlements are very appealing to new businesses and restaurants looking for a strong customer base.
A second factor contributing to the rise in Madison’s mixed-use developments is due to the city’s relatively new Zoning Code. The last Zoning Code rewrite took place in 1966 and was in need of dire updates. One of the main objectives of the new code is to increase mixed-use zoning districts and attendant regulations both for the downtown and lands at the urban edge. The new code also aims to link land use and transportation in order to promote public transit use.
Adoption of the new zoning map and text amendments by the Common Council happened on October 16th, 2012, and they went into effect on January 2nd, 2013. Madison’s urban planning staff is continually tweaking the new code; however, locals are already seeing some positive outcomes from the rewrite.