After suing the city of Madison in June over the Judge Doyle Square project, Chicago-based Beitler Real Estate Services voluntarily dropped its lawsuit without prejudice Wednesday.
Beitler Real Estate Services, which won approval for the major two-block downtown project, had claimed that Madison “unilaterally seized” some private portions of the project when it approved additional funds to construct them.
The major public-private partnership between the city and Beitler is meant to bring more hotel rooms downtown to support the Monona Terrace Convention Center, replace the aging public parking ramp with an underground facility and, ultimately, get the parcels back on the tax rolls.
"We’re very pleased that they decided to drop the lawsuit," Mayor Paul Soglin said. "I’m hoping we can return to discussions about continuing the project, which is in everyone’s interest."
Beitler Real Estate Services Vice President John Paul Beitler III did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit, filed June 4 in U.S. District Court in Illinois, followed the Madison City Council’s approval of an additional $11 million in public spending to construct retail space, private parking and a structural slab to support an apartment building — collectively called the podium.
“The city is pleased with this result and had insisted that this was a necessary first step in order to have productive discussions on the future of the development,” City Attorney Mike May said. “With the lawsuit out of the way, the city hopes to renew discussions with Beitler on how to modify the existing Development Agreement so that the project may proceed.”
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the city was anticipating a decision from the federal judge in late September or early October and welcomed Beitler's news.
"I take (Beitler's) unilateral move of yesterday to be a welcome sign that they are no longer interested in litigation and will proceed cooperatively with discussions about any future relationship into the future," Verveer said.
After Beitler filed the lawsuit, the city notified the company that it was in default of the development agreement. Verveer said it would be in both party's best interests to re-evaluate the existing agreement moving forward.
"This was a great first step toward trying to repair our frayed relationship, but I just couldn’t predict today what our long term relationship will be with Beitler," Verveer said.
In July, the city moved ahead with the “podium” portion of the project and presented altered podium designs to the city’s Urban Design Commission. The city was not yet seeking approval, but the designs earned praise from the UDC chair for their ability to stand alone if the plans for apartments above fell through.
Designs for the entire building on Block 88, including the podium, were originally designed to be encased in a glass facade. But glass is expensive and since the city has taken over the podium portion of the project, officials suggested designs limiting the use of glass façade. Recent designs used battens as a screen for a contemporary look.
The podium will sit on top of a 560-stall underground parking ramp built behind the Municipal Building. Under Beitler’s plans, the podium will serve as the base for a nine-story apartment complex.
Beitler is also developing the block that currently holds the Government East parking garage and has plans for two towers, which will include apartments, a hotel and retail space.
The city is responsible for construction of the new underground parking ramp, which is currently under construction.
Judge Doyle Square encompasses the Madison Municipal Building on Block 88 and the Government East parking garage on Block 105. The square is named after Judge James E. Doyle, a federal judge in the District Court of the Western District of Wisconsin and a leader in the Democratic Party.
Lisa Speckhard Pasque contributed to the story.