Why? Because CWD, a non-profit organization that has done a lot of good for our community over the years, wants to transform the beautiful old--currently vacant--building into an arts incubator. They're proposing a LEED-certified renovation of the space so that it will provide much-needed, affordable studio and learning space for area artists. According to a CWD press release:
The Garver Arts Incubator will include 40 art studios. Visitors can enroll in art classes, attend performances or view a gallery while interacting with artists. A three-story atrium, indoor/outdoor café, gift shop and rooftop garden are also included in the plan. In addition, the renovation will be a sustainable development project and the building will be LEED certified.They go on to emphasize that the center will not be paid for with city taxpayer money. Instead, "If the referendum passes, the City of Madison will sell the Garver building to Common Wealth who would retain ownership of the land through a minimum 30-year lease." Money for the project would be gotten through private funds, tax credits, and some federal assistance.
Certainly there's added appeal for me in a project like this. I'm heavily involved in the arts community, and many of my friends are artists who would likely benefit from its creation. In fact, the idea reminds me very much of the Mellwood Arts & Entertainment Center in Louisville, Kentucky. A few of my Wis-Kino comrades and I went down to Louisville to participate in their 48-hour filmmaking festival, and the final screening was held in a very nice room in the center.
It's an old, converted meat packing warehouse that now houses artist studios, a cafe, fitness center, some retail space, galleries, and teaching spaces. I remember being very impressed with the look and feel of the building, and that the city had such a great resource for its artists. The Garver Arts Incubator could be just such a space for Madison.
The main reason it's had to come up for referendum is that, "Under the city's shoreline preservation ordinance, voters must endorse the project located near Starkweather Creek before construction can begin." I'm hopeful that, based on CDW's track record of working closely with the community and paying close attention to environmental concerns, shoreline preservation will be a top priority in construction plans. They've already made plans to have "on-site storm water management and a comprehensive transportation plan that minimizes parking," which is a good start.
I encourage you to read more about it over at the CWD website. They have detailed plans and proposals available. And if it means anything to you, The Capital Times has endorsed the idea, and my own alder, Marsha Rummel, has been championing the project as well.
Vote Yes for the Garver Arts Incubator.