With their Tuesday vote approving a massive $170 million redevelopment plan for a 2-block area downtown known as Judge Doyle Square, Madison’s City Council has reached the “light at the end of the tunnel,” said Council president Mike Verveer.
The District 4 alder added that he is “relieved” to be at this stage of the process.
“I’m excited as anybody here tonight that we have made this progress and that we’ll see a groundbreaking very early in the new year,” Verveer said.
The Judge Doyle Square project began as a “consolidated idea” in the fall of 2010 under former Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, but has actively been moving toward construction for about three years, project manager George Austin said. The city is now one step closer to breaking ground on Beitler Real Estate Services’ plan.
But the old Government East parking garage, built in 1958, was showing signs of wear in 2006. The project as a whole became more concrete with the creation of a master planning project vision for the southeast area of the Central Business District in 2010.
The project has seen many iterations and has had its share of disappointment including the originally favored developer, in partnership with Exact Sciences, pulling out last November.
Under Beitler’s proposal, an approximately 600-stall underground parking garage is planned to replace the Government East parking garage on Block 88 as well as 200 parking stalls above ground to serve a 144-unit apartment building. The plan also calls for 33,400 square feet of retail, a bicycle center and office space on the first two floors.
Demolition of the Government East garage is scheduled for November 2018.
The second part of the project on Block 105 will include an approximately 250-room mixed-use hotel with 23,551 square feet, with a large portion of that for meeting space. A 210-unit apartment building, about 7,800 square feet of street-level retail and a 289-stall parking garage, most of which will be above ground to serve the hotel and apartment tenants, is also planned.
“Hopefully we got to the project that will get built,” said Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6.
The total project cost is estimated at $170 million with about $131 million from private debt and equity sources.
The city is investing $43 million, which includes $24 million in tax incremental financing. The project is also expected to add $87 million in assessed value when completed and occupied.
City funding of the project is split between the TIF district, parking utility reserves and proceeds from the land sale.
Called the “conscience of the Council” on the Judge Doyle Square project by Verveer, Ald. David Ahrens, District 15, strongly supported approving the development agreement. Ahrens has been an opponent of the project throughout the lengthy process but said the final plan has “come a long way.”
“The fact that we’re not financially engaged with the private development and that they take their own risks and we take ours, I think that’s important to the public,” Ahrens said.
In the coming months, the downtown tax district's other taxing entities, which include Dane County, the Madison School District and Madison Area Technical College, will need to approve changes to the TIF district's plan. Beitler still needs to secure land use approvals for their part of the project.