Upcoming waterfront development in Madison, WI

Overview Rendering

A bird’s eye view of the colorful space off Hancock Street. | Rendering provided by Saiki Design

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We stumbled across this Reddit thread a little while back asking Madisonians where they’d like to see waterfront development in the city. With 34+ miles of shoreline between Lakes Mendota and Monona, adding a few more spots to enjoy the waterfront isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

We’re exploring a few upcoming waterfront projects, as well as asking you, where the prime spot for a shoreline hangout is.

Lakefront Porch on Wilson at Crowley Station

The concrete platform above a water utility wellglamorous, we know — has plans to become a community space for gatherings with outdoor seating, gardens, and a Little Free Library. With already $100,000 from the Madison Neighborhood Grant program, the neighborhood plans to raise an additional $400,000+ to build and maintain the space.

While the space won’t open until summer 2023 if all things go as planned, we’re excited to watch the progress unfold.


How would you want the shoreline to be used? | Photo by @kjwfoto

Lake Monona Waterfront Redesign

The city is in the early stages of collecting proposals for the redevelopment of the Lake Monona waterfront from Willy Street to Olin Park. In fact, final submissions are due Mon., May 2. Ideas have included pedestrian bridges, a public boathouse and marina, or even a terrace park over John Nolen Drive.

Original plans by John Nolen — Madison’s first city planner — included connecting Lake Monona to the Capitol via a promenade. Instead, a park was built in 1943 on a filled lake bed. However, the area plans to become a “must-see” regional destination by transforming a building on East Lakeside Street with shoreline access and creating a “Destination District” near Alliant.

As for further development ideas, plenty of Madisonians have chimed in on the topic:

“I would love an Olbrich Biergarten type set-up in Vilas, behind the zoo” - artbitch

“I seem to recall talk of a boardwalk connecting the union to James Madison Park. That would be pretty swell.” - DeBroiler

“I think Burr Jones park would make a cool spot for a beer garden right along the Yahara. The newly added stadium lights for the ultimate frisbee field and the future public market make it a natural fit.” -esmussoein

Alright, now it’s your turn to pitch us your best ideas. Where should the newest waterfront spot be built?