Garver Feed Mill: No Run-of-the-Mill Location
In 1997, James Garver’s feed mill fell into foreclosure and was seized by the City of Madison. For years, the East Side building sat vacant. The lot became a designated dumping ground for leaves and snow, and graffiti artists used its brick walls as a blank canvas for their creations. A turning point for the building occurred in 2015 when Chicago developer Baum Revision toured the site. Baum saw its potential and borrowed $4.3 million to proceed with the project. The WHEDA Participation Lending Program (WPLP) was used to support the redevelopment. The program pairs WHEDA financing with a small business lender to reduce the risk of the transaction for the local lender. With financing secured, rehabilitation of Garver Feed Mill got underway in 2017 with Madison natives chomping at the bit to see what would become of the site.
The reopening of Garver Feed Mill in 2019 has allowed for the creation of more than 120 jobs for its 13 and counting tenants, including Perennial Yoga Studio and Surya Café. Studio owner Megan Grace was able to expand operations from her Fitchburg location into the new building after the feed mill project received $2 million from WPLP, which supports job creation and sustainable community growth. By adding a second location, Perennial Yoga Studio was able to hire 10 additional yoga instructors onto their team of 30 and some 15 employees joined the kitchen staff at Surya Café.
|The first time I saw the space, even though it was dilapidated, it had a vibe-an energy- and the building felt like it belonged here.|
|-Megan Grace, Owner of Perennial Yoga Studio|
The tenants of Garver Feed Mill possess an entrepreneurial spirit, at least half of the businesses located inside the mill are owned, or co-owned, and operated by women. This includes Briar Loft Floral Design, Glitter Workshop, Kosa Ayuredic Spa, Sitka Salmon Shares, and Twig & Olive Photography.
Today, the Garver Feed Mill is an iconic Madison destination for locals and visitors alike. It houses unique food and drink offerings, including crowd favorite Ian’s Pizza. In addition, other locally owned, unique tenants reside in the old factory building. For a building that was originally built in 1905 as a sugar beet refinery, and later turned into a dairy and poultry feed plant in 1929, Garver Feed Mill has come a long way and maintained its heritage in the ‘feed’ business for decades.
Projects like Garver Feed Mill are made possible through partnerships between developers, cities, and financing programs like WPLP. The site won three design awards in 2020 alone, a tribute to all the time and work that went into the development. With extensive history and so much to offer, Garver Feed Mill is certainly no run-of-the-mill location.