Galaxie Groundbreaking Set for Sept 16

55,000 square foot Festival Foods store hopes to open  by summer of 2015

The next phase of progress in the Capital East District will begin ceremonially on September 16 as city leaders and developers will break ground on the $90 million Galaxie, a 14-story 670,000 square foot mixed-use development that will transform the 800 block on the north side of East Washington Avenue.

It is almost a shame that this space will be disrupted since a lovely carpet of green grass has grown over the former Don Miller site following a soil remediation project. But it seems to be a worthwhile disruption as the new complex will address many of the goals of the City of Madison, the adjoining neighborhoods, and the growing demand for housing in the city core.

It has been a struggle to reach the point of a ground breaking as several attempts develop the site have failed since the lynch pin has always been the requirement for a full-service grocery store. After a failed attempt several years ago, the City restarted the process in 2013 and selected Gebhardt Development’s proposal after a multistage committee review process.

“It’s been great working with the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association, they have given us great guidance, and [the] Marquette neighborhood as well,” said Gebhardt Development Owner Otto Gebhardt. “We’ve always envisioned this cap city corridor, being kind of split up by East Washington, hopefully this is kind of a bridge between the two neighborhoods.”

While it was the most dazzling of the proposals, Galaxie (not the name at the time), hit all the right notes: creative housing options, commercial frontage on East Washington, a design that melded well with the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood and that all important grocery store which the northeast isthmus desperately needed.

The proposed Passivhaus modules that use passive techniques to heat and cool the interior spaces. Courtesy Gebhardt Development

The proposed Passivhaus modules that use passive techniques to heat and cool the interior spaces. Courtesy Gebhardt Development

When Gebhardt won the right to develop the site they had an agreement with Metcalfe’s to operate a grocery store, but as the project moved forward, that plan fell through and it seemed the development might be sunk again.

Earlier this year, Gebhardt announced that Onalaska-based Festival Foods would join the project as it relished the chance to develop an urban-style grocery store, the first of its kind for this 18 store chain. Mike Ivey of The Capital Times reports that the grocer still hopes to open the 55,000 square foot store by summer of 2015.

“Festival Foods is the first component, the 205 unit apartment tower, and another 33,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.” says Gebhardt about the first phase of the project. Phase one will also include a 501 stall parking structure and rooftop farm.

Galaxie will be an architectural compliment to its neighbor, the Constellation which was also a project by Gebhardt Development. The groundbreaking ceremony will be held at the Galaxie site at 3:30 p.m., September 16, 2014.

Attending the ceremony will be: Mayor Paul R. Soglin, Gebhardt Development Owner/Developer Otto Gebhardt, Festival Foods President/CEO Mark Skogen, District 2 Alder Ledell Zellers and City of Madison Director of Planning and Community and Economic Development Steve Cover.

[Update – 09/06/2014, 10:26 a.m.] Comments from the developer added.

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