Your guide to understanding development news in Madison


It’s construction season, which means Madison’s skyline will be getting some new additions.

Photo by Tammy Boersma

Table of Contents

If you want to be a development detective but find yourself turned around by the terminology in various city releases and news reports, never fear.

Here are some definitions of common terms paired with projects and examples you might recognize in the 608.


Projects that provide more than one purpose in the community, like a building with apartments on top and retail shops on the bottom. Expect to see combinations of housing, retail, parking, commercial, and industrial components.

Example: Chapter at Madison, like many downtown buildings, will host apartment units + businesses.

rendering of Chapter at Madison

Here’s a sneak peek at the future of Regent Street. | Rendering by CRG Development and LJC Design

Infill Development

The development of vacant or underutilized lots that are surrounded by areas that are either partially or fully developed.

Example: The Oscar Mayer site plan introduced in 2020 addresses infilling the area between Oscar and Packers Avenues.

Opportunity zones

Areas of the city where building a site earns you incentives, including a break on real estate taxes and money back from costs of relocating, machinery and equipment, and construction permits.

Example: The University Research Park hosts over 125 companies and 3500 employees.

Neighborhood Association

Recognized group of residents, property owners, or others with fixed interests within a defined boundary, organized to discuss issues related to their community.

Example: The Campus Area Neighborhood Association surveyed students about a development proposal for the Common Council’s consideration on the matter.

Principal use

The primary activity or function of a site. A site’s principal use must be aligned with the zoning ordinances of the land it’s on.

Example: Living in a home within a residential zone is an allowable principal use.

Accessory use

An activity or function of a site labeled subordinate or incidental.

Example: You’ll need a permit to put that new shed on your home property, as it is an accessory-use build.

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