East side ‘Imagination Center’ project battles two years of delays 

A $16.1 million “Imagination Center” project on Madison’s far east side has been delayed for two years by a number of obstacles, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. The center would combine a library, park pavilion, and city services at Reindahl Park.

Early phases of the project saw plans for a center 40,000 square feet in size; that has been pared down to 18,000 square feet at this point but still includes library collections, meeting and classroom spaces, and an indoor pavilion, among other amenities.

Construction was anticipated to start this year and conclude with the center’s opening in mid-2024. It is now slated to begin in 2025 and finish in mid-2026.

The city and design team held extended discussions to alter the footprint of the two adjoining buildings so that more mature trees near the structure could be preserved; additional discussions have centered on programming within the center’s library portion to create flex spaces for various needs; and other talks have focused on reviewing solar and geothermal options to keep the project as green as possible.

One of the project’s prior challenges was recently resolved with the City Council’s approval of an ordinance that exempted the city’s new transit requirements in city- or Dane County-owned parks. The project, as designed, has not been in compliance with the ordinance adopted earlier this year.