Miss Madison Racing approached Madison’s Redevelopment Commission at its meeting on Tuesday asking for support in acquiring land at Shun Pike and Hutchinson Lane for a new boat shop that relocate the teams operations from a Seattle suburb back to Madison.
“This is the 60th year of Miss Madison and we want to move back home,” said owner representative Charlie Grooms. “A lot has happened in our world over the 60 years, but we have seriously out-grown what we have down on Milton Street. I am sure you have heard the talk among people of us living and doing our work in Seattle. That’s true, but that will come to an end. We are now up to three boats, a multitude of engines, and a significant investment in equipment, and we need a place to put it.”
Grooms said the team needs “roughly five acres” with plans for a 60 x 100 foot building initially and then a 100 x 50 foot structure added later. He said the concerns they have “to stay at the level of competition we currently are, is we need to be in an area where we can make some noise. We own a dyno — a test cell that runs the engines at 100% full power — and the turbine engine at full power makes a lot of noise. Not for a very long period of time. Sometimes you just run them for a minute or two, but it does make a lot of noise. We don’t feel we can do that downtown at least without rattling the walls and making the neighbors upset, so we would like something a little bit out of town.”
Grooms said Miss Madison Racing currently has three full-time employees and 36 part-time or volunteer workers. “We plan to bring all of that back to Madison where it is now all pretty much located in Seattle,” said Grooms.
He said the move will not occur for at least two years.
“We have two years left in our contract with HomeStreet Bank, and we anticipate that they will renew that, but irrespective of that, we’re in a 20,000 foot facility” in Seattle, where Grooms said expenses are high. So, besides wanting to be back home in Madison, Grooms expressed it also makes good economic sense for the racing team operations to be in Madison.
Matt Wirth, the city’s Economic Development executive director, said he is in the process of preliminarily developing those parcels of city-owned property at Shun Pike and Hutchinson Lane, and that process of laying that out “is not a speedy process.”
Wirth asked how soon Miss Madison Racing would need the property, and Grooms responded, “We’re ready to start building something, but we’re not in the position to move into or do those things. I think we’re going to be compelled to be where we are at least for the duration of the contract with HomeStreet, which is two years. This process could take some time for us both, so let’s get started now. We can answer the questions and do the preliminary work. We have the drawings. We have our financial plan together in what we are trying to accomplish, but we just need some direction and what are our options, if any.”
Wirth told the Redevelopment Commission that he will return with a proposal on how to move forward with the redevelopment on those parcels at Shun Pike and Hutchinson Lane. “I will definitely want your input before we move too much further, he said.
Redevelopment Commission Chairman John Grote asked Grooms if Miss Madison Racing is requesting that the land be donated?
“That would be the ask, but we are more than prepared to do whatever needs to get done to secure a facility,” Grooms said. “Miss Madison needs to come home and we have several million dollars worth of equipment that we need to make sure is in the proper place and that it can continue at the level it has, which is a really high level.”
Grote asked Grooms about the current state of the team’s sport, H1 Unlimited Hydroplane Racing.
“The race sites are strong. The owner group is hit and miss. That’s been kind of the ebbs and flows of the sport,” Grooms said. “We have five solid race sites including Madison” all of which are parts of community festivals that occur in conjunction with the events.
Wirth noted that most of the parcels in the area Grooms mentioned are two acres, but Grooms said they would need at least four acres, requiring two parcels.