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Dylan Runne (left) talks with race announcer Jeff Ayler after winning the Pro-Lite Series race in Guntersville, Alabama, in June 2022. Runne was announced as the 22nd driver of the Miss Madison Racing Team on Thursday and will drive the U-1 Miss HomeStreet Bank.

Kohl's commits to Shoppes at Sunrise Crossing
  • Updated

Five months after breaking ground on The Shoppes at Sunrise Crossing — Madison’s largest retail development in more than two decades — the final store to anchor that national retail shopping center has been announced by the city.

Kohl’s will join Hobby Lobby, T.J. Maxx and Five Below at the former Madison Plaza site, located at the intersection of Clifty Drive and Michigan Road on Madison’s hilltop, as primary tenants of the overall 155,000 square feet retail space to be built on the 8-acre commercial site.

Kohl’s, operated by Kohl’s Corporation, is the largest department store chain in the United States with more than 1,100 locations in every U.S. state except Hawaii. The store coming to Sunrise Crossing will be one of Kohl’s “small store concepts” with 39,000 square feet of retail space located on the south side of the facility currently under construction, said Madison Economic Development Director Tony Steinhardt III.

Steinhardt said with Kohl’s now on board, the project could move quickly in filling other retail opportunities because potential clients like to know who the major retailers are before committing to a project.

“Now that we have the anchor tenants finalized, we will begin marketing for out-parcel national restaurants and supporting shops. Residents and visitors of Madison can tentatively expect the shopping center to be ready for the holiday shopping season in 2023,” Steinhardt said.

The second phase of the overall 13-plus acre project will include much needed development of a 190-unit multi-family housing complex called The Residences at Sunrise Crossing with construction likely to begin later in 2023. Madison is facing a severe housing shortage, and the apartment development will not only help that but also allow the city to incorporate flood mitigation during design and construction of related infrastructure improvements on the hilltop including a 3 million gallon water detention basin that will slow storm runoff both on the hilltop and downtown Madison.

“In July, we broke ground on an exciting new $55 million mixed-use development project that will bring new shopping choices and new housing to the City of Madison. We will also address the flood issues plaguing downtown by adding a stormwater detention basin engineered into this development. Today, we are excited to announce Kohl’s will be joining the Shoppes,” said Mayor Courtney. “This investment in our hilltop is long overdue. I am proud of the city team and am grateful for the investment in Madison by our development partner, CRM, for their work towards bettering the quality of life and economic opportunity in Madison.”

“As we continue our vision of The Shoppes at Sunrise Crossing, we are excited about the Kohl’s addition to the shopping center. The Shoppes will become a destination for the citizens of Madison and the surrounding community,” said developer Garyen Denning in a release by the city.

Steinhardt said a major hurdle the city must still clear on the project is construction of new access roads to the shopping center and apartments, which will require changes to the intersection at Clifty Drive and Michigan Road and on Michigan Road where an new entrance will be built with traffic control signals. Citing the small scale of the project and the number of road projects contractors have to choose from, Steinhardt said the city has bid the project twice without receiving an offer but must find a way to complete the work as part of its agreement with the developer.

Steinhardt’s announcement came after he provided the council with an update on a wide range of development projects the city has pursued and landed in 2022 — from facilitating with bond issues to meeting with potential investors and clients. He said the search continues for a new grocery and pharmacy for downtown Madison and he met with a potential pharmacy client earlier on Tuesday.

“I want to commend you and Mayor Courtney for all the hard work you’ve put into this development,” Council member Patrick Thevenow said after the presentation.

In other business, the council:

• Approved amendments to the city’s Waterworks rates adopted last fall to reflect adding a new rate scale for rural bulk water companies who buy their water from Madison to distribute to their customers. The resolution, approved during mediation, resolves a lawsuit by the rural water companies and will pass along stepped rate increases over the next five years to help pay for the major water improvement project.

• Approved a notice to tax payers concerning additional appropriations to the city’s general fund. A lengthy audit of the treasurer’s office combined with the need for updates in software and changes in accounting procedures resulted in changes to several areas of city’s budget. The council will hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 30 to finalize the budget, which must be approved by Jan. 1. At that time the changes will be reconciled, allowing the city to move into 2023 with a clean slate and a more transparent budget process from month to month.

• Approved acquisition of property located near the lower elevation of John Paul Park to be used for additional parking at a below market value purchase price of $15,566. The council voted 5-1 to purchase with Curtis Chatham absent and Thevenow opposing. Thevenow argued that the property was in a flood plain, provided challenging access to the upper part of the park and less expensive options existed for adding more parking. Courtney noted the property offers easy access to the ball field and that a playground could be added at some point to provide children with a place to play while family members are playing softball.

• Approved the reappointment of Mike Pittman, Carol Ann Rogers and Thomas Stark to the Historic District Board of Review (HDBR) and Shirley Kleopfer and I’Easha Cornelius to the Human Rights Commission, all by 5-1 vote with Chatham absent and Thevenow opposing. Thevenow said his no vote was not related to the nominees but to recent decisions made by the HDBR that he does not think go far enough to project the city’s historic district.

Holiday closings set, extreme cold weather on way
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Jefferson County government, the City of Madison and Town of Hanover have announced hours of operation for the Christmas holiday weekend.

The county courthouse, Madison City Hall and Hanover Town Hall will all be closed on Friday, Dec. 23 and Monday, Dec. 26, for the Christmas holiday.

The Madison closing also includes the solid waste transfer station on Madison’s hilltop on Friday and Saturday but the facility will be open on Monday, Dec. 26 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Meanwhile, Madison curbside trash collection will be delayed one day next week.

Meanwhile, the Madison Parks Department Senior Dance scheduled for Friday, Dec. 23, at Brown Gym, has been cancelled due to the anticipation of inclement weather. The forecast for Friday is calling for a high of 3 degrees and a low of 2 after an overnight low of 3 below zero on Thursday evening.

The Jefferson County EMA has issued a winter weather advisory in effect from 6 p.m. Thursday through noon on Friday with a wind chill watch through Friday afternoon.

The National Weather Service in Louisville has forecast snow accumulations of 1 to 2 inches with winds gusting as high as 45 mph, resulting in dangerously cold wind chills as low as 25 below zero. Motorists should plan on slippery road conditions possibly impacting the Friday morning commute.

The cold wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in less than 30 minutes.

JCBT wants system for considering funding requests
  • Updated

Monday’s Jefferson County Board of Tourism meeting was packed with groups seeking funds to support their events and projects but only Madison’s Wild West Rodeo came away with funding approved.

The JCBT approved the rodeo but delayed a decision on the others with hopes of first developing a system for making decisions on appropriating money to promote tourism in Jefferson County.

The board determined the rodeo — the inaugural show was last fall — is an event that definitely is in line with what JCBT hopes to do, and approved allocating $35,000 for the event set for Sept. 22-23 next year.

The rodeo sold out both nights in September, and board member Trevor Crafton said it “did exactly what they said they were going to do, and brought in people” ... “if you’re going to have a model, it would be the rodeo.”

The proposal was unanimously approved by all JCBT members in attendance including Crafton, Ron Bateman, Victoria Perry, Jim Bartlett and board president David Bramer, who gave his endorsement despite voicing his desire for the board to discipline itself on funding decisions.

“I’ll go with it, but if we do this each time we will not do anything better,” said Bramer, adding the board needs to work towards developing a structure for its decision making while trying to stay within what has been budgeted for tourism partnerships.

“We won’t let you down,” said Ellie Troutman, one of the organizers of the rodeo. She noted the approval of funds was important as that group works toward this year’s event. “We are up against dates” and meeting deadlines “and we’re trying to get ahead of deadlines.”

The other proposals were divided been the city of Madison and the town of Hanover and all were put on hold with expectations of a decision at the January JCBT meeting.

Tony Steinhardt III, Madison’s director of economic development, sought $40,800 for developing the city’s new Madison’s Comfort Station at the city’s gateway into a satellite location for VMI and $25,000 for Wayfinding mapping signage throughout Madison to assist tourists.

Kenny Garrett, president of the Hanover Town Council, brought a $350,000 request from the town to build a new road to Hanover Community Park and another $8,500 for a hotel feasibility study for Hanover. Additionally, there was a $52,000 request from the Hanover Horsepower Auto Show and Concerts from Shaun King, one of the organizers of that event.

Steinhardt noted the Comfort Station is a “very key and important visitor asset.” He said it’s been 20 years since that facility was completed, and the city is now working toward constructing a parking lot behind that building with 22 additional parking spaces. He said the city has been negotiating with Visit Madison Inc. (VMI) in an effort to staff the Comfort Station at peak visitor times with the main offices for VMI remaining at 601 West First St.

“It will give our visitors a more welcoming experience. It also provide an opportunity to facilitate questions and answers in ways we would like to do on Main Street,” Steinhardt said. “We think it’s really important to have that Main Street presence.”

In order to do that, Steinhardt said funding is needed for LED lighting, an enhanced security system, a refresh of the front of building’s landscaping and more preparation toward making it a satellite visitor center location. “Projects like this are great opportunities to partner where it has mutual benefit to residents and visitors,” he said.

Andrew Forrester, executive director of VMI, said the satellite location does provide a chance for VMI to better serve visitors. “We have a great amount of people coming to the center at First Street but that’s not where the majority of the walk-in traffic is, so we’re missing out on those,” and the satellite location would make it possible to provide a more positive impression on visitors.

The request for Wayfinding is a process of combining signage and map design to help guide people to their destinations with ease. The maps would be at various locations throughout the city and be implemented in partnership with VMI. “That is less of a critical request,” said Steinhardt, noting the Comfort Station assistance is more of a priority.

Garrett said the need for a new road to Hanover Community Park relates to the increased use of park over the last two years. “One of our big issues is parking. Two years ago we had zero kids in our programs” and last year there were 340. “We have good things going athletic-wise” with future goals to build a soccer complex and gymnasium on 14 acres that are being donated on the west side of the park. In order to get to that, we have to have roads and parking.”

The town has developed plans for road to be built near Hanover’s Dollar General Store, 415 Lagrange Road, just past the Hanover Volunteer Fire Department to loop to the park. “$350,000 is a lot of money, I understand that, but the development of this road for us to be able to put the gymnasium and soccer complex in is something we have to have. If we don’t have that, the develop of the park goes down the drain.”

Garrett said he understands the considerations that must be made by JCBT and “what you can give is what I’ll take. Every dollar helps, and everything we’re doing is all for the children of our community.”

Garrett noted the funding request for a hotel feasibility study relates to interest shown by Cobblestone Hotels, LLC, based in Neenah, Wisconsin, in locating in Hanover.

King, treasurer of Hanover Horsepower, said the inaugural event was held in August as a fundraiser for Hanover Community Park. With the event attracting 1,000 people. He is hopeful of increasing that turnout to 2,500 to 3,000 people next year, which will be held the first weekend in August. As part of the effort to grow the event, King is seeking support to provide a bigger stage, along with better sidewalks and improved lighting. “The idea ultimately is to improve the infrastructure of the park, and that will bring folks into Jefferson County,” said King.

Much of meeting’s other discussions focused on establishing a process for determining funding request and it was determined to establish two cycles for consideration. Bramer suggested establishing a special meeting Friday, Feb. 3, to hear requests for the first cycle, with JCBT to announce its decision at the regular meeting Monday, Feb. 27. A second cycle of requests was planned for August to create two six-month cycle requests per year.

VMI says tourism receipts at record pace
  • Updated

Although actual numbers are still not finalized, 2022 has already been a record year for tourism based on innkeeper tax collections in Jefferson County.

At Monday’s meeting of Visit Madison Inc., Executive Director Andrew Forrester reported a record month of collections with $92,073.50 pushing the year’s total to $644,000, an 33% increase over last year’s record $537,000.

“I’m trying not be too over zeolous, but that’s a big deal,” said Forrester. “I really think that Visit Madison, through the efforts of our marketing, through Sarah (Prasil, executive marketing director), through our team, festivals and events, this board, the volunteers have set Madison up for success, and that’s why we’re seeing that.”

Forrester noted that while the innkeeper tax totals could vary slightly, VMI calculates the receipts as they are reported while Jefferson County Board of Tourism reports the totals once the money is received.

Forrester reported that the Nights Before Christmas Tour of Home, held the last weekend of November and first weekend of December, was “overall, a strong event,” though it fell short of last year’s record attendance. “I think all the partners were happy, and should show a good couple of weekends for Madison.”

Additionally, he said there’s a good possibility that the houses for next year’s tour may be determined as early as February, providing great optimism for the 2023 tour.