Startup City

By Scott Resnick, StartingBlock Madison, for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

startupmadison_mjs_webRecently, the Wisconsin State Journal highlighted the recent successes of 316 West Washington. The once sleepy building that held AT&T servers has been transformed into a budding estate where entrepreneurs can locate. EatStreetCatalyze, and Filament Games now lead the way for the revitalized 1970 building. 100State will soon be joining the mix. My non-scientific estimate is that at least 280 start-up employees work in the 10 story building. Given that EatStreet has 20 new openings and Catalyze recently completed a $6.5 million raise, I assume that number will only increase.

So, wearing my StartingBlock Madison hat, what are my thoughts on the project?

I’ll be blunt: “This is fantastic for Madison!” First, Hovde Properties and their team of architects took a bullish outlook on start-up community in Madison and our downtown. The finishes aren’t gaudy, rather they contain a chic start-up vibe. My wife and I recently ate at Red Sushi, now relocated into the first floor, and it was the exact kind of location our downtown needed. Could other downtown property owners have made this kind of investment? Sure. But Hovde Properties had a vision for the space and are now executing.

Second, the start-up community is reached a tipping point in the downtown commercial real estate market. Forward-thinking firms are choosing to congregate and co-locate in an urban, amenity-rich cluster: a naturally forming innovation district comprised of entrepreneurs and collaborative spaces. Since 2010, vacancy rates in downtown Madison have dropped by 33%. Once dominated by legal services, the Capitol Square is now infused with start-up companies. Hovde is only part of the success story. ULI’s US Bank Building, Fiore’s Network 222, and Constellation all contain a significant tech presence. What started as the location for a few tech companies has evolved into an innovation district that is empowering economic growth, a growing tax base, and creating sustainable, living wage jobs. Read more …

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