Moxie Owner Pitches Outdoor Event in Downtown Madison
Moxie owner William Plunkett has some summer plans for the lot next to his restaurant on Wall Street. Plunkett recently appeared before the Planning & Zoning Commission (PZC) to discuss holding a summer festival or block party of sorts on the vacant lot right before school lets out for the summer.
The lot in question is the land between the Moxie restaurant and the white house, also owned by Plunkett, located just south at 40 Wall Street. The idea for the event would be to have a family and friends event with live music, food, local brewers, a magician, and maybe a face painter, according to Plunkett.
“It would just be to start the summer and make it festive before the summer really kicks off,” he said. “I wanted to do it as a reward, essentially, for the kids as they get out of school. It’s also for the parents and it’s something to look forward to before school gets out and it’s also just a good way to launch the summer.”
Plunkett described the potential event as a good-will gesture to the community from which he probably wouldn’t profit. He also made it clear to PZC that he is not looking to hold an event like the since-prohibited Grassy Strip concerts at the Madison Beach Hotel.
“It would be smaller musical acts coming in and out,” he said. “Some might be jazz; it would not be hard rock and roll kind of stuff. It would be smaller musical acts, but ultimately it is just a way to get people down the street and just expose whoever doesn’t come to Moxie to Moxie and just to show goodwill.”
Plunkett said he initially bought the empty lot to protect his neighboring investments and had been trying to come up with a creative way to use the property without necessarily building a structure. He said the space is perfect for setting up a tent, some tables, and a small stage.
“I think this would be a big draw for the town if it was done in the right way,” he said. “I have already started interviewing musical acts, most of it is acoustic…so it’s just supposed to be a fun event that anyone can come to. It’s not something that you are going to have to pay at the door.”
Asked if he saw this event as a one-time thing, Plunkett said if the event is a success, there could be an opportunity to do more similar events. Director of Planning and Economic Development Dave Anderson said he has been speaking with Plunkett about the potential event. He said if it is a one-time event, the approval process is less complicated.
“What we will have to do in house is Plunkett will have to apply for an extension of his liquor permit to cover this property, so the fire marshal, zoning enforcement, and Health Department will need to sign off on that,” he said. “There are checks and balances beyond you guys (PZC) just giving the thumbs up.”
Plunkett said the event would likely go from 2 to 7 p.m. on a Sunday. Any alcohol sold would be limited to beer and/or wine and kept in a confined tent requiring ID and a wristband.
PZC members said both the Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Commission (EDC) would likely support this event and also suggested Plunkett consider reaching out to neighboring businesses to see if there is a potential to make it a real block party-type event.
“People have been talking about trying to do an event downtown for a while and I think it would be a good opportunity and this is honestly one of the only places to do something like this,” said Anderson.
Anderson said he would keep working with Plunkett and keep PZC informed of the planning process. PZC Chair Ron Clark said he wasn’t sure about having the event on a Sunday, but gave the green light to continuing with planning.
“I think it’s a good idea and has a lot of potential,” he said. “I just hope it works well and we don’t run into any issues.”