City seeks proposals for vacant lot on E. Washington Avenue - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

City seeks proposals for vacant lot on E. Washington Avenue

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Driving through downtown Madison you may have noticed the large empty lot off of E. Washington Avenue. The old site of the Don Miller auto complex may be filled as early as next summer.

The City of Madison is now requesting that local developers send in their ideas for building something on the lot.

At nearly 200,000 square feet, 4.5 acres, it's the biggest gap in downtown Madison. Quietly sitting empty while city administrators dream of possibilities.

"In this case we have an entire block and that's really unique to have the ability to have redevelopment with four streets around it," says Business Resource Manager Matthew Mikolajewski.

That's why Mayor Paul Soglin decided to officially send out a request to local developers, a strategy that's been quite successful in the past. It's how they found the developer for the apartment and business complex being built right next door.

"We received six proposals the last go around," says Mikolajewski.

City officials are confident developers will see the massive open lot as a blank canvas, one just waiting for an artist to come along and paint something on it. The only problem is deciding which artist has the best vision for this community.

Nearby residents have a few ideas of their own. Many neighbors are sick of seeing a dull, empty lot across the street.

"I think the whole area around East Washington should be more of an extension of downtown," says Josh Lavik who lives across the street. "I mean it should be a lot more high-rise development that sort of thing."

Other neighbors would like to see a more natural approach.

"I was thinking a park or some kind of community center, something to help the community building in Madison would be great," says Abby Lindemann.

No matter how many ideas come in it only takes one good one to fill the open space. City officials say they've received interest from a variety of residential and business developers over the past year. If they find a proposal they like, construction could begin in the late summer or fall of 2013.

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