City of

District 15

Alder David Ahrens

Alder David Ahrens

Alder David Ahrens

Contact Information

Home Address:

4117 Major Ave.
Madison , WI 53716

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Ahrens’ Updates

Cottage Grove Rd. Plan, Garver Hotels, Monona Gof Course

July 29, 2017 1:47 PM

August 2017 District Report


Planning for Change: About 75 residents of Eastmorland, Lake Edge and Acewood neighborhoods met on July 10th to learn about and respond to a draft of the Planning Division's  Cottage Grove Road Corridor plan.

The plan focuses on the intersection of Cottage Grove Rd and Atwood Ave. The plan detailed the corner that includes the soon-to-depart Pinney Library and the former Habitat ReStore. It excludes Walgreens and the bank branch.

There is strong interest in the area because the current properties are in bad shape, there is a large parking lot and there has been a big increase in housing construction on the Monona side of Monona Dr. The plan will provide guidelines to developers, city staff and policy-makers such as the Planning Commission on the desired general size, density, mix of commercial and residential, green space, etc.

The city also commissioned a professional analysis of the potential retail and residential markets for the area. The study found that there would be strong interest in higher-density housing as seen in Monona and Schenk-Atwood. There would likely be sufficient interest in specialized retail shops to have a "mixed-use" development for a building facing Cottage Grove Rd.

The guideline would allow for a building of 2-5 floors on Cottage Grove Rd. and would likely have retail stores on the first floor. Each structure would be separated by green space. Most of the parking would be underground to maximize the green space and avoid an "overflow" of parking into the surrounding neighborhood.

In the discussion, one resident stated that she didn't want large buildings in our neighborhood and that people lived there because of the quiet, rural type of atmosphere. A member of the city planning staff responded that all development would take place on Cottage Grove Rd. The city is growing and the ongoing question is, "What kind of change is desirable?"

It should be noted, that before any development could take place, a developer would have to buy this multi-million dollar property and then raise millions of dollars more to build.  The city government will not buy or demolish any of these properties. The final report will be reviewed by the Planning Commission. Further comments from all of the affected individuals, organizations and business owners are welcome.

For more information, visit the website:

Pinney Library: Friends of Pinney Library hosted an evening meeting with the architects who will design the new library. About 50 local residents discussed their views of what a new library should be and the process for working together with the firm and city staff. The library staff will set up a meeting for everyone to discuss their prior work on libraries and other public buildings and how the community can be part of the process.

Garver Feed Mill and Hotels: After two and a half years, the proposed reconstruction of the Garver Feed Mill (located behind Olbrich Gardens) and hotel complex may be getting underway. However, before work starts, the developer has requested $1.6 million to clean the site of toxic contaminants. This payment is in addition to the $1.2 million that has already been given for the rehab of the building.

The rehabbed building will be the site of small manufacturers, professional offices and no doubt, a coffee shop. The estimated cost of the rehab is well over $15 million. Of that amount, only 10% ($1.5 million) is provided by the developer. Most of the remaining amount is from city, state and federal grants and credits.

The major cost to the city will be the "site cleanup" necessary before the construction of 50 stand-alone "tiny" hotel rooms. Each requires a water/sewer line and other unique costs. Most of the hotels will be located are in areas that are, to different degrees, contaminated. Some of the contaminants are substantially toxic and will have to be removed off-site to a special landfill.

I opposed the city's on-going grants to the developer of this project. After nearly $3 million in grants to the developer, this may not be the end of our financial payments. As construction begins, it is likely that other additional costs will be shifted to the city.

Further, what is the need that is being addressed? Are there other needs that should be addressed with $3 million?

While the concept of "tiny" hotels is interesting, I don't think the more hotel rooms are needed. Over 1000 additional rooms are planned for construction in the coming year. This includes 250 rooms at Judge Doyle Sq. and 197 rooms at the current MATC site downtown.  None of the planned hotels are requesting city funding.

And there is the fact that building hotels off Fair Oaks Ave and 100 feet from an active railroad seems quite a gamble. You may have noticed that there are no hotel rooms between downtown and East Town (right off of the Interstate). That's not a coincidence. It's because the hotels are either for vacation or business travelers. The Fair Oaks site may be nice because it is adjacent to Olbrich Gardens but that may not be enough to keep 50 rooms filled most of the year.

Monona Golf Course: The notion of closing and selling part of the Monona Golf Course has been a subject of discussion on and off for a number of years. The Parks Dept. issued a report with a number of options to address the need to raise millions of dollars to improve the deteriorating conditions on the city's major golf course- Yahara Hills.

(Note: The city's golf courses do not receive tax dollars for operations, maintenance or capital expenditures. It must raise all of its own funds.)

Generally, the option on Monona Golf Course is in three parts: Sell the land facing Monona Drive to a developer for housing. Rebuild the remainder of the course into a park. Use the funds for the land sale to repair the failing infrastructure.

The golfers would be able to use a much-improved Yahara Hills course, the area would have a big new park and badly needed housing would be made available.

The devil, of course, is in the details. How valuable is the land on Monona Dr? Would we have to sell all or part of the area facing Monona Dr? How much will it cost to convert the golf course into a park? Will the funds for the conversion to a park come from the sale of the land? Etc., etc.

I am sure that if the option for Monona Golf Course moves forward there will be many opportunities for community discussion and answering these questions and much more, both formally in meetings and online.

One thing for sure, it will be a slow and deliberative process.


Please note that I'll be on vacation from August 2nd to 9th, out of town and hopefully, out of touch. But please send a message to When I'm back call me at 334-1156.

Positively Eastside!




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