Building anew: Construction is picking up, giving Madison a needed facelift

They have been in the works for several years, designed at a time when the construction industry was gasping for air, and they are about to come to fruition. The four commercial building projects profiled here are part of Madison’s construction renaissance, and given their economic and communal merits, they arrive just in the nick of time.

 All these projects were approved as the building industry was trying to emerge from a turbulent economy, and they get high marks for bringing new jobs to the construction industry and the trades. In this article on construction and development, IB chronicles the economic development impact of four commercial projects that open in calendar year 2014.

Activating the water’s edge

Bob Dunn, owner of the Edgewater Hotel, is frequently asked if all the pre-approval political headaches were worthwhile, and the answer is an unqualified yes. The rest of us will see what he means in late August, when a redeveloped Edgewater opens and its variety of indoor and outdoor spaces invite people to the Lake Mendota shore.

The $100 million redevelopment already is paying economic dividends, having created 700 jobs during the construction phase. It will add an estimated 250 permanent jobs, at various levels of the wage scale, after its August opening. Then there is the untold city room tax revenue from an additional 100 hotel rooms, and the street activation that restaurants, retail, and better lakefront access will bring. 

Activating the waterfront is one of the ways the redevelped Edgewater Hotel hopes to create a unique experience in Madison.

In addition, 45,000 sq. ft. of special event and meeting space will bring top business and community events to the north end of the isthmus. The Edgewater has already booked “Andy North and Friends,” one of the largest fundraisers in Wisconsin, for 2015. The event, which features high-profile athletes, supports the UW Carbone Cancer Center.

“The advantage of hospitality is that it brings dollars from the outside and creates new spending in Madison, which has a multiplier effect,” notes Dunn.

The multiple summer scenes could range from large-scale weddings against the backdrop of Lake Mendota to smaller alfresco rooftop meetings. But improving Madison as a destination involves creating unique experiences, which is where improved lakefront access, via an outdoor public plaza, comes in. Edgewater management is still working on ideas — perhaps concert series or food-themed experiences — to activate the waterfront. 

With the Edgewater, creating a portal to the waterfront also involves a combination of bar-restaurants; retail in the form of fitness, high-end spas, cafés, and apparel space; and a dramatically different pier operation. “Clearly, we want to evolve from where we were when we closed down, and it’s going to take us a little time to get that finalized,” Dunn noted. “I’m pretty confident that we’re going to do things there that will be a great asset to the boating community in Madison.”

In time, Dunn believes the Edgewater will be viewed as a companion to Monona Terrace. “If you study what’s happening in the convention markets today, people want authentic, unique experiences to bring their events to your city,” Dunn stated. “We need to do more of that, and the Edgewater is going to be the next important element of that.”



Nursing a shortage

The supply of nurses directly impacts health care delivery and outcomes, but a pending shortage in registered nurses and the need to increase the educational preparation of nurses could undermine the health care industry and national reform. With analysts predicting a state RN shortage of 20,000 by 2035, UW-Madison will dedicate Signe Skott Cooper Hall, its new nursing school, in August. 

Named for a longtime UW nursing educator and member of the American Nursing Association Hall of Fame, the $52 million facility will accommodate 30% growth in both nursing faculty and student body. “When you look at the faculty shortages and the nursing shortages, and the demand for nursing in the state, it’s imperative that the school of nursing grow,” says Coleen Southwell,
the school’s director of development, who led the Power of Nursing capital campaign.

To train the future workforce, the new UW School of Nursing will feature collaborative learning environments. It will be named for the late Signe Skott Cooper, a member of the American Nursing Association Hall of Fame.

Recruiting qualified faculty will be more difficult than recruiting nursing students. Thanks to gifts from John and Tashia Morgridge, the school has made some progress in establishing endowed chairs (for systems innovation and pediatric nursing), but “recruiting faculty will continue to be a problem when less than 3% of the nursing profession is chaired at the doctoral level,” says Professor Mary Ellen Murray, associate dean for academic affairs. 

UW-Madison has raised the required $17.4 million in private support for the new nursing school; the state supplied the rest. However, fundraising continues because funding scholarships for doctoral students remains a priority, and advanced practice nurses provide primary care, especially chronic care in older patients. 

UW has seen an increase in enrollment in its doctorate in nursing practice program. With the new facility, it can accommodate more, and it has launched a doctorate in nursing practice for the primary care providers among nurses. “They have the ability to provide primary care, and that will be extremely relevant with people having increased insurance coverage,” notes Murray. “They will need access to primary care, and nurses will be able to provide it.” 

The 160,000-sq.-ft. school will feature a simulated hospital environment designed to train the future workforce in nursing best practices. It will have state-of-the-art manikins that simulate the birthing process, and the technology to collaboratively train nurses in a variety of care settings, including telenursing, which enables patients to teleconference with their nurse from home.

In addition, “studies show a lot of errors in health care come from transitions, such as when you go from the hospital to a nursing home,” says Southwell, noting that such errors drive up costs. “We have designed this building to help educate our students to manage these care transitions from the get-go.”



Serving intervention

Shannon Barry, executive director of Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, runs the smallest domestic violence center, per capita, in the state of Wisconsin. That would be okay if the center was located in the smallest city, but it’s located in Madison, so a facility intervention was sorely needed. DAIS’s new, $5.6 million Fordem Avenue facility, all 35,000 sq. ft. of it, will allow DAIS to nearly double its 24-member workforce, expand its services, and accommodate twice as many beds for domestic violence victims.

The current facility has 25 beds, which is around the same number as the domestic violence shelter in Shawano County. Needless to say, it doesn’t meet the need, especially with 80 people on a nightly waiting list — all in imminent danger of being seriously harmed or killed by their batterers. “For the past couple of years, we are full 100% of the time,” Barry says. 

The new Domestic Abuse Intervention Services facility will allow for expanded staff and services, including double the number of shelter beds.

Why not even more beds? Distrustful of national research that suggested 75 to 100 beds here, DAIS management believes six other core programs can reduce the need for shelter. Those programs include help-line support groups, legal advocacy services, face-to-face crisis response, children’s programming, prevention programming, and training and education. Another $1 million must be raised for an operations reserve, but by expanding the capacity of these programs, Barry hopes to reduce the need for shelter.

“It didn’t make sense to go from a 25-bed facility to a 100-bed facility,” Barry states. “We would collapse under that sort of transformation, and we wanted to keep our options open.”

One of those options is to expand elsewhere on the new site, an alternative that DAIS would rather not exercise. The organization’s eventual goal is to put itself out of business, which local employers should note because national studies show that domestic violence causes victims to lose about 8 million days of paid work each year, the equivalent of about 32,000 full-time jobs. 

Added Barry: “When we do training for human resource professionals and businesses, one of the things businesses are surprised to hear is that research shows 75% of the perpetrators of domestic violence use their workplace resources to stalk and harass their victims.” 

After the new facility opens this summer, an expanded staff also means more consumers for north side restaurants and stores. In a 2013 survey of its staff and volunteer workforce, DAIS found that its workers spend about $50,000 a year at nearby businesses. “Our current workforce is relatively young,” Barry noted. “They like to shop and eat out.” 



Expanding horizons

Two expansion projects wrap up in 2014 at American Family Children’s Hospital, and combined, the hospital’s new Imaging Pavilion (now open) and its two-story vertical expansion (opening in August) are valued at nearly $44 million and will add 46 full-time jobs to Madison’s health care industry.

Jeff Poltawsky, the hospital’s vice president, notes the first-floor Imaging Pavilion includes a hybrid suite where physician groups share one piece of equipment for cardiac catheterization, interventional radiology, and neuroimaging. Most importantly, the technology platform allows the hospital to reduce by 60% the radiation dosage used in diagnostic procedures. 

American Family Children's Hospital's new imaging suite contains art-themed walls and floors depicting Wisconsin state parks to help make child patients more comfortable.

The 13,000-sq.-ft. Imaging Pavilion, which also features themed art depicting Wisconsin state parks to reduce anxiety in children, cost $10 million to build and equip. Half of the funding came from a UW Hospital contribution and half will come from philanthropy, including a Feb. 22 fundraising gala at Monona Terrace. 

The hospital opened six years ago with 61 beds, plus another seven beds in a satellite unit at UW Hospital. The vertical expansion will add a seventh and eighth floor. The seventh floor will be shelved for future expansion, and the 32,789-sq.-ft. eighth floor will have 26 beds, 14 of which are for Level IV neonatal intensive care. 

The NICU, as it’s called, is a new service in Wisconsin’s south central region and will serve medically fragile newborns who typically require heart or digestive tract surgery. 

“The hospital is highly skewed to intensive care beds,” Poltawsky says. “We care for some of the sickest infants, children, and adolescents in Wisconsin.”

At the advice of engineers, the NICU was placed on the top floor, along with a hospital pharmacy and a special room for storing breast milk and formula, because premature infants are very sensitive to noise. Consistent with the hospital’s family-centered care model, the top floor will contain all private rooms so parents can sleep with their newborns.

To build the two top floors required a $13 million investment from UW Hospital, but to build out and equip the eighth floor for Level IV neonatal care cost another $14.7 million. The hospital kicked in half the cost, and the remaining $7.35 million will have to be raised privately, hopefully by this summer.

“Eventually, when every floor is completed, the hospital will have about 135 beds,” Poltawsky notes. “Currently, we are caring for about 67 patients per day, and that need could double by 2020.”

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