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Madison Should Move Ahead With Impressive Library Project

August 30, 2009

We love our local libraries in Madison, and the surrounding areas.   While I use the downtown branch, I am also fond of the Middleton library as I know so many of the friendly faces that work there, and it is always good to chat while checking out books.  Knowing the value of these libraries for the reading public, I am very pleased to see the headline in the Wisconsin State Journal today, stating that a new impressive central library will be constructed.  Mayor Cieslewicz is to be applauded for making this matter a priority at this time.  Down the road we will see this was the correct decision.  Thanks Dave!

Convinced the timing and price are right, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is proposing to move forward with a new $37 million central library, the biggest city building project since Monona Terrace opened 12 years ago.

“It’s in the best long-run interests of the city,” Cieslewicz said, citing the need, favorable construction costs, jobs and increased property values. “Now is the time to build the library.”

Cieslewicz on Tuesday will formally propose in his capital budget that the city use $37 million in borrowing, tax credits and private fundraising over the next three years to pursue a proposal by the Fiore Cos. for a six-story, glass and stone library at West Washington Avenue and Henry Street that would be part of a larger, more ambitious redevelopment.

The mayor could have delayed action or pursued a $27 million renovation.

The new library, with a two-story entrance, higher ceilings, lots of glass, a rooftop patio and 105,000 square feet of space, would be built first. A second phase would offer a 380,000-square-foot mixed-use project with an upscale hotel with up to 270 rooms, retail space and 425 parking spaces on the current library site. The cost of the full redevelopment is estimated at $88 million.

If approvals are secured, construction on the library could begin in 2010 with an opening in 2012, and the second phase would be completed two years later.

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