The evolving Judge Doyle Square project could see design changes as a developer seeks alterations to the proposed hotel slated for a prime parcel downtown.
The complex $175 million public-private development, which includes parking, commercial space, apartments and a hotel on the two blocks now occupied by the Madison Municipal Building and nearly demolished Government East parking garage, has been in the works for years and seen several iterations.
Beitler Real Estate Services has proposed building the hotel and a second-phase structure that would include housing on the block where the Government East garage sits.
Now, a group called Mortenson Development, which Project Manager George Austin said is “part of the Beitler team,” has filed an application with the city for changes to the hotel. They include increasing the number of rooms to 260, providing 4,500 square feet of conference, meeting and additional spaces, and adding a restaurant with outdoor seating.
According to Mortenson spokesperson Cameron Snyder, the developer is “providing pre-construction information to help the City and Beitler advance the project.”
A neighborhood meeting on the alteration application is scheduled for Thursday with approvals from the Urban Design Commission, Plan Commission and the City Council to be considered in February and March.
While the proposal maintains the curve of the building, other facade changes would be made to align with the apartment project that Stone House, a Madison developer, is currently building across the street on the block behind the Municipal Building.
Milwaukee-based architect firm Kahler Slater is working with Mortenson.
Beitler lacks hotel financing
A significant issue facing the hotel portion of the project is that Beitler has not obtained a financing commitment — a key element of its part of the development. Without it, the project can’t proceed.
Austin said Beitler is attempting to follow through on the financing, but the economic realities created by the pandemic make it difficult.
“The biggest impediment (Beitler has) and getting into a construction start at this point is getting the financing commitment,” Austin said. “In my opinion, they've been doing everything they can do to get that secured and appear to be committed to making that happen as best they can to meet the development schedule.”
Under the development agreement, Beitler is required to start construction of the hotel by the end of the year. If not, the developer would forfeit its rights to develop the property.
Beitler Vice President J.P. Beitler did not respond to requests for comment.
On the block between Doty and Wilson streets and behind the Municipal Building, Stone House is constructing a 13-story building, with nine of those designated for apartments. The local developer was chosen by the city following changes to the project stemming from disputes with Beitler.
According to a quarterly update from the city’s Judge Doyle Project Coordination Team, the apartment building is progressing with no significant issues. Stone House is on schedule to complete it by mid-August.
Public elements nearly complete
The public components of the Judge Doyle Square project — new municipal garage, bicycle center and the demolition of Government East — are nearly finished.
The Wilson Street Garage opened in June. Freewheel, the bike center’s operator, opened the facility but is not selling memberships until pandemic restrictions are lifted.
Government East is expected to be fully demolished by the end of February. It was on schedule to be demolished at the end of 2020, but the contractor changed demolition methods on the east side of the ramp to “further protect the adjacent properties,” according to the update.
The change came after the city’s contractor struck the historic Fess Hotel building, which houses the Great Dane on East Doty Street, in the fall during demolition of the garage’s upper floor and stairwell.
According to city public information officer Hannah Mohelnitzky, localized damage occurred to the wall of an upstairs office area.
“Efforts are being undertaken by the City’s contractor and the property owner to repair this damage and additional precautions were taken by the City’s contractor to protect against further damage to the adjoining structure while demolition progressed,” Mohelnitzky said in a statement.
The Government East demolition remains on budget, according to the update.
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