Mayor, Community Groups, City Officials to Break Ground at Villager
Friday, March 27, 2009 - 8:58am
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz today joined the Urban League of Greater Madison, Alder Tim Bruer, Community Development Authority, the Madison Library Board, Planned Parenthood, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and MATC to break ground on two projects at the Villager. A result of collaboration between the City, the CDA and many community groups, the official groundbreakings today mark the beginning of construction on two development projects on Madison's south side.
"I'm thrilled to be standing here today with organizations that are making an investment in the Villager and in Madison's south side," Mayor Cieslewicz said. "The Villager will provide an important array of health and education services under one roof. After much hard work and collaboration, today marks a victory for the south side and for the city as a whole."
The mayor also thanked the organizations and businesses that have made an ongoing commitment to South Madison by locating at the Villager. They include Dane County, MATC, the University of Wisconsin-Campus Community Partnership, UW Space Place, UW Extension, Access Community Health Centers, Wisconsin Women's Business Initiative Corporation, Madison Urban Ministry, Interfaith Coalition for Workers Justice & the Workers Rights Center, Dane County Transitional School, Public Health Madison and Dane County-Harambee, Dane County Parent Council, City of Madison IT, City of Madison Voter Registration, Cricket Communications, Sportstown, VIP Nails,Yue-Wah Oriental Foods and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA).
"On behalf of the CDA I want to express our excitement at seeing the spirit of renewal and reinvestment, that surrounds this special community asset today," former CDA Chair Stu Levitan said. "When the CDA agreed to purchase the Villager in support of the City's commitment to South Madison, we knew that this day would come. We're proud of the CDA staff and project team that has kept this incredibly complex and worthwhile project moving forward. We also very much appreciate the support of the Mayor and the City to help fund this project through the City's capital budget."
In addition to the multi-million dollar renovation of the interior and exterior of the existing Atrium, the Villager campus will be home to the new Urban League Center for Economic Development & Workforce Training. The League is serving as the developer on this 28,000 square foot two-story building that will be located in front of the current Villager Mall in what is now a parking lot.
The center will serve as the hub of operations for the Urban League's economic empowerment agenda - an agenda designed to catapult the African American community to a legacy of sustainable economic development. ULGM will focus intensively on job training and skills development.
"The League is working aggressively to build its capacity to operate in these core areas. As the first-ever State of Black Madison study found last year, Greater Madison faces racial disparities so stark that, in many cases, they surpass those of larger urban centers," ULGM CEO Scott Gray said. "Moreover, the current economic crisis is having an especially disparate impact on our constituents. By the end of 2008, 689 individuals had applied for Urban League job assistance programs. That number was more than double the prior year, and far exceeded the capacity of the Urban League's team of six employment counselors."
The Urban League Center will also house the new South Madison Branch Library. The South Branch's expansion from 3,000 square feet to 12,000 square feet will accommodate sharp increases in library visits.
"Our South Branch Library visits are up 11.4% over last year, and we're excited to expand as we continue to serve a diverse population," Madison Library Director Barb Dimick said.
Planned Parenthood will combine two overburdened family planning health centers into one state-of-the-art center at the Villager campus, providing preventative, affordable quality health care by multi-lingual staff.
"This is another example of Madison being on the forefront of community projects. By co-locating these important organizations at the Villager, Madison is providing real resources and a real investment in the south side, which will benefit the entire city," Deborah Hobbins, Regional Vice President of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin said.
"This project is a vital investment into important services needed in this part of our county," County Executive Kathleen Falk said.
"The Villager Mall is a great benefit to the city of Madison and it's residents. We are proud that we can continue to play a role in the redevelopment of the Villager Mall, South Madison and the Park St.
corridor," University of Wisconsin Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin said.
"We are so honored to be part of this important Community Redevelopment Project. MATC has been an active member of Madison's Southside neighborhoods for many years - but this collaboration provides us with new and exciting opportunities for growth," MATC President Bettsey Barhorst said. "Through feedback from families throughout the community, we have been able to assess job training and educational needs and respond with new, expanded and targeted programming. This project will benefit families throughout Madison's south side, and enrich the greater Madison community."
"This is a very special day for all of us at the Villager" said Access Community Health Centers' CEO Barbara Snell. "For over a dozen years, Access Community Health Centers has served this neighborhood at our clinic located at the Villager, and we are pleased to welcome the Urban League. We are very honored to share with our community partners this commitment to Madison's south side."
- Rachel Strauch-Nelson, (608) 266-4611