Judge Doyle Square Block 88

Stone House Development's proposal would include a 161-unit apartment building built on top of a new underground municipal garage and a podium, which includes above grade parking and retail space, on Block 88 located behind the Madison Municipal Building.

Negotiations between a city staff team and Stone House Development over a proposal to build an apartment complex at Judge Doyle Square with affordable housing units scattered throughout the building are complete.

The housing proposal is part of the Judge Doyle Square redevelopment project and will be built on top of an underground parking garage under construction. Stone House Development’s project and the newly named Wilson Street Garage are located on Block 88 behind the Municipal Building.

Project manager George Austin presented a draft development agreement to the Finance Committee Monday after six negotiation sessions between the city and Stone House between Sept. 4 and Oct. 21.

“The development completes the vision for the Block 88 parcel and adds a significant number of apartments, including affordable units, and at-grade retail to the south side of the central business district, activating the Pinckney Street block,” Austin said. “It will be soon with construction targeted to start by June 1, 2020, and add nearly $30 million of new property value to the city.”

The resolution to adopt the development agreement is likely to be introduced at the City Council’s Nov. 19 meeting and referred back to the Finance Committee for possible action Nov. 25. If approved by the City Council, construction is targeted to start June 1, 2020 with move-in tentatively scheduled for July 2021.

As outlined in the proposed development agreement, the project will include 161 apartments, 148 above grade parking stalls and approximately 8,000 square feet of retail space. Collectively, the parking and retail space comprise what the city calls the podium.

The apartment building would include 26 studio units, 91 one-bedroom and 44 two-bedroom apartments.

Twenty of the apartments would be reserved for households earning at or below 60% of the median income in Dane County. They would include 11 studio units, six one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments. Stone House Development could work with a social equity provider to increase the number of these units, according to the draft agreement.

An additional 17 apartments would be set aside for households earning at or below 80% of the area median income and include 12 studio units and five one-bedroom apartments. Stone House Development would disperse the affordable housing units throughout the apartment building and will use the same materials as the market rate units.

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said it is a “huge relief” that Stone House Development’s proposal is moving forward, calling it a “win win” from a land use perspective and in terms of the draft development agreement.

“Only a couple years ago, this land was an underutilized surface parking lot, so it is absolutely a higher and better land use,” Verveer said.

The city previously tried to come to an agreement with Gebhardt Development, but the project proved too complex and switched to negotiating with Stone House. Verveer said he predicts “smooth sailing” ahead as Stone House attempts to secure land use approvals.

Under the draft development agreement, Madison would provide up to a $450,000 loan for the 20 units restricted to households earning at or below 60% of the area median income.

“In a perfect world, it would have been nicer to have more affordable units in this very visible downtown project, but the policymakers felt that our affordable housing fund was better spent outside of Block 88,” Verveer said, noting the significantly higher costs to build affordable housing downtown rather than outside of the city’s central core.

The developer would purchase the podium from the city for $5 million at closing with an additional $1 million paid at the 15th anniversary of the date the project is placed into service, according to the draft agreement. If the new municipal parking garage requires modifications, Stone House would be responsible for them.

Austin said the early winter conditions have pushed back the opening of the new Wilson Street Garage. He said the opening date would likely be after the winter holidays.

Solar questions

A provision of the development agreement addresses environmental sustainability. Stone House has agreed incorporate solar panels on the lower roof, a green roof system and a blue roof system for water retention. Additionally, the developer would obtain LEED equivalency.

However, Austin said the negotiating team understood that the panels could not be installed in the Capitol View Preservation Area on the upper roof without a change in state statutes. This state law, which is also codified in city ordinances, buildings within a mile of the Capitol building from being taller than the height of the base of the columns beneath the dome.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway disputed that understanding Monday and reiterated the emphasis on environmental sustainability components.

“It’s been this committee’s expectation and the Council’s expectation that we would have renewable energy on this project,” Rhodes-Conway said.

Austin said the staff team will investigate the issue further.

“If allowed, Stone House will install the solar panels on the upper roof rather than the lower roof,” Austin said.

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