The proposed $69 million revitalization project east of downtown Madison, WI, which will include the StartingBlock Madison entrepreneurial center, passed another hurdle this week.

A city committee voted to allow city staff to negotiate the sale of the property where StartingBlock will be located to Gebhardt Development, the real estate project’s developer, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The plot was once the site of a car dealership.

StartingBlock—which will be one tenant in the larger $69 million project, dubbed “Cosmos”—will include a co-working space, office suites with flexible lease terms that suit the needs of startups, and conference rooms. It will be the new home for startup accelerator Gener8tor, the Sector67 maker space, and events put on by networking group Capital Entrepreneurs. StartingBlock is led by newly named executive director Scott Resnick. The nonprofit’s team consists of a coalition of entrepreneurs, local business leaders, and future StartingBlock tenants.

Renderings of the proposed mixed-use project can be seen above.

Under the latest plan, StartingBlock will occupy 50,000 square feet in a $10 million building that will also include 50,000 square feet for American Family Insurance and 4,000 square feet for retail, the State Journal reported.

That building will be connected to a $45.5 million building that includes 104,000 square feet of offices; a 35,000-square-foot performing arts venue with 2,300 seats; 12,000 square feet of retail space; and a 6,000-square-foot culinary center, the newspaper reported.

The developers are also planning a $12 million parking structure with 600 parking stalls and 15,000 square feet of commercial space, the newspaper said.

Madison’s startup community is betting a lot on the project. Supporters view StartingBlock as a potential catalyst for new startups, investments in companies, technical education, and helping to brand Madison as a vibrant technology hub.

A lot still needs to happen before that vision becomes reality. Besides property negotiations, there are still a few more city approvals that must be secured. StartingBlock is also in the midst of a $1.5 million fundraising campaign. It has already raised an undisclosed donation from American Family, as well as grants of $150,000 from the MG&E Foundation and $50,000 from the Evjue Foundation. The city of Madison also committed $1.5 million toward StartingBlock construction costs.

The plan is to break ground on Cosmos by the end of the year. StartingBlock intends to move into its space by the end of 2016, with the full Cosmos project reaching completion in spring 2017, the State Journal reported.

Jeff Engel is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin


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