Judge Doyle Square project receives City Council approval

Wisconsin State Journal
July 6, 2016

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/judge-doyle-square-project-receives-city-council-approval/article_7be33613-9eee-5720-b1ba-50cb917f5d06.html

After years in the making, the proposed redevelopment of Judge Doyle Square won City Council approval to members’ applause Tuesday night.

Council members unanimously approved a development agreement with Beitler Real Estate Services for a massive project that will transform two Downtown blocks. The $170 million project will bring a 250-room hotel for Monona Terrace, retail and commercial space, 354 apartments and more than 1,000 parking spots just south of the state Capitol.

“There clearly is light at the end of the tunnel tonight,” said Council President Mike Verveer, who represents the core Downtown.

Describing the project as momentous and iconic, several council members expressed excitement along with gratitude to the city’s negotiating team.The development is set for the blocks that hold the Madison Municipal Building and the Government East parking garage.

Construction on a new parking structure to replace the aging one would need to start by May 1, 2017.

Verveer said there’s a possibility that construction could begin on the garage in the first quarter of 2017.

For years, city officials and developers have floated ideas on what the project should look like.

“When I got elected in 2007, we started talking about this, and I was never really a supporter of this redevelopment until this time,” said Ald. Marsha Rummel, 6th District.

The city’s first public parking ramp, the Government East garage was built in 1957 and 1958. Around 2006, city officials were exploring replacement options for the aging parking structure.

The project became larger in scope around 2009, with a more comprehensive redevelopment envisioned. Since then, the possibility of a public market or the headquarters of a Madison business were among the options considered. Along the way, a hotel for Monona Terrace became a mainstay of the proposals.

Last fall, a plan by JDS Development fell apart after Exact Sciences Corp., an anchor tenant of the proposed $200 million project, backed out of the deal. The company decided to instead explore an expansion at its current location in University Research Park on the city’s West Side.

Under the terms approved Tuesday, Beitler would sign a 98-year lease for the land, with the option of two 50-year extensions. The developer would pay $755,000 annually, but starting in the fifth year, rent would increase by 5 percent every five years.

The project includes $24 million from a Downtown tax incremental finance (TIF) district and $13 million from Parking Utility reserves to construct the new Government East garage and a bicycle center.

Ald. Maurice Cheeks, 10th District, hailed the agreement because it does not use public funds for the private development portions.

Council members chose to enter negotiations with Beitler over Vermilion Development, both Chicago-based companies, on April 19. Negotiations had temporally stalled as the city’s negotiating team and Beitler hashed out differences in four areas of the agreement.

Both sides accepted some of the other’s terms, and the city’s finance committee passed the development agreement at its June 27 meeting.

A timeline to secure public funding for the project made the need to approve a development agreement urgent. The Downtown TIF district, where funds will be drawn from, is set to close in the early 2020s, while spending commitments need to be made by September 2017.

Some approvals for the project are still needed. The TIF district’s other taxing entities — Dane County, Madison School District and Madison Area Technical College — will need to approve changes to the TIF district’s plan in the coming months. Beitler and the city also will need land use approvals for their respective portions of the projects.Also Tuesday, council members approved an $800,000 loan from the Madison Capital Revolving Fund for Sherman Plaza Inc. The money will be used to assist RP’s Pasta Company, which is looking to expand its operations by creating space at the North Side plaza at 2901 N. Sherman Ave. The plan has a goal of creating 20 full-time jobs.

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