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Madison alder: Judge Doyle Square development is down to two proposals

Judge Doyle Square

Judge Doyle Square is pictured at right, across Wilson Street from the Hilton.

One of the three remaining contenders to develop Judge Doyle Square in downtown Madison is definitely out of the running, according to a Madison alder.

Doyle Square Development announced on Tuesday, just before a 2 p.m. proposal deadline, that it had lost its hotel partner, North Central Group of Middleton. The loss prevented Urban Land Interests, a Madison-based developer and the remaining Doyle Square partner, from including a hotel element in its Judge Doyle Square development proposal.

Inclusion of a hotel in proposals was added as a requirement by the City Council late last year.

“Unfortunately, due to a variety of circumstances and other opportunities, North Central Group has recently decided to no longer pursue the Judge Doyle Square project,” said Brad Binkowski, president of Urban Land Interests, in a letter to Mayor Paul Soglin and the City Council on Tuesday.

The letter also asserted Urban Land Interest’s ability to build underground parking for Judge Doyle Square, separate from the hotel project.

Downtown Ald. Mike Verveer said the underground parking element of the letter may have been ULI’s attempt to stay in contention for the project, with hopes the city will remove its hotel requirement.

But that is unlikely, according to Verveer.

“My understanding of ULI’s letter is that they’re out of the process, because they were unsuccessful in efforts to secure a hotel partner and they don’t wish to be in the hotel development business themselves,” he said. “And that leaves us with Beitler and Vermilion to review.”

The two other Judge Doyle Square development proposals, from Beitler Real Estate Services and Vermilion Development, included plans for hotels.

Beitler’s $126 million proposal included a 252-room hotel and a 210-unit apartment building, both situated above 306 parking stalls.

The proposal also included a 656-stall parking garage and a 31,000-square foot retail space, which would incorporate a bicycle center and food court.  

The Vermilion Development proposal, which weighs in with a cost of $199 million, includes a 279-room hotel, a 125-unit apartment building and 1,108 underground parking spaces.

The proposal also includes 94,000 square feet of office space and 13,000 square feet of retail space and bicycle facilities.

“Both proposals certainly are very interesting and we’re looking forward to examining them. We will get to work on these immediately and it will be a thorough, public process,” Mayor Paul Soglin told the Wisconsin State Journal on Tuesday.

Other marked differences between the two standing proposals are their calls for public financial support and inclusion of underground parking, which, like the hotel element, is a City Council requirement for proposals.

The Beitler proposal calls for $26 million in public support. Vermilion calls for $49 million.

The Beitler proposal did not include underground parking.

In the coming weeks, the proposals will be analyzed by city employees and prepared for presentation at a city Board of Estimates meeting in mid-February. The Board of Estimates will make the final selection and recommendation for the Common Council’s consideration, which is slated for late February.

The Judge Doyle Square development process began in 2013 and has seen several rocky transitions and reinventions.

“Our future course, I would predict, as of today, would be that we continue working with the two development teams that have been able meet our minimum submittal requirements and see if we can yield a high-quality project that we have been so eager for these several years that this project has been under consideration,” Verveer said. 

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