Creating a new public riverfront for Monona

CLIENT: City of Monona

DATES: 2012-2019

BUDGET: $60,000,000

NEEDS: As a rapidly maturing city in Dane County, the City of Monona aimed to increase its urban density while embracing its only remaining opportunity to provide its residents with a dynamic and vibrant waterfront destination. In 2012, The City and Community Development Authority worked closely with Vandewalle & Associates to assemble six underutilized properties adjacent to the Yahara River into a major 8.5-acre redevelopment project. It became the largest redevelopment in the City’s history—and a significant new landmark for Monona.  Key goals of the project included:

  • Creating a year-round community destination and gathering area
  • Enhancing public accessibility to the waterfront
  • Increasing property value while maximizing property tax income and economic value
  • Eliminating deteriorating buildings, blighting influences and environmental deficiencies
  • Diversifying the housing stock while improving conditions in the neighborhood
  • Remediating the site, adding green space, and improving stormwater management
  • Assembling the land into functionally adaptable parcels for redevelopment

CHALLENGES. The site posed a complex set of unique challenges to V&A’s experienced design and project management teams, including:

  • Project scale. The project’s mid-size proved one of the highest hurdles for development, requiring creative balance of uses and value.
  • Parking requirements and aesthetics. The project’s design and financial success were lined to the needs for sufficient parking that would not detract from site’s aesthetics or public open space.
  • Designing a riverfront for all users. Early in the process, the public space that provides the city’s only public access to the river was determined to be the key asset boosting property value and making the economics work.
  • Environmental challenges. A brownfield parcel on the site required remediation. New impervious surface construction in limited space led to creative stormwater management.

SERVICES. To advance the project, the V&A team provided services through all stages including:

  • Market and impact analysis, site surveys, and technical reports
  • Tax increment finance district and statutory redevelopment plan preparation
  • Site vision, concept development plan
  • Public space design and theming
  • Ongoing coordination for demolition of existing buildings and creation of new infrastructure
  • Site pro forma and developer recruitment
  • Financial analysis of the developer proposals and development agreements

PHASES COMPLETED. Three phases, plus public improvements that were made in early phases including 0.6 acre public waterfront space with 23 new public docks. 

  • Phase I: This most challenging phase also served to establish the marketplace. It involved demolition of existing facilities, remediation, and redevelopment of a mixed-use $14 million project. Opened in 2019, it includes 96 rental residential units and 25,000 square feet of commercial uses.
  • Phase II: A second residential structure with an additional 140-160 units is now complete. 
  • Phase III: The 92-room Avid Hotel opened in the summer of 2019.