Four developers are offering elaborate new proposals for Judge Doyle Square, including one that moves Exact Sciences’ headquarters into as much as 357,000 square feet of office space in the massive redevelopment south of Capitol Square.
The developers — Beitler Real Estate Services, Doyle Square Development, JDS Development and Vermilion Development — are proposing mixed-use projects with a new hotel to serve Monona Terrace, housing, commercial space and parking. But they offer differing design, features and price tags.
The developers, bringing regional, national and international experience, are seeking to redevelop blocks that now hold the landmark Madison Municipal Building and aging Government East parking garage.
“The opportunity to develop such valuable and underutilized property in the central city will not happen again,” Mayor Paul Soglin said. “We were fortunate to receive several very exciting proposals, and I’m looking forward to hearing more about the details.”
The city had negotiated with JDS — composed of the Hammes Co. of Madison and Majestic Realty of Los Angeles — from February to December 2014 on a project that included a hotel, housing, commercial space, a bike center and parking. But the City Council voted to reopen the process to others because the project — especially the hotel — had evolved dramatically amid concern about city costs.
The new proposals, which were due Friday afternoon, bring new concepts and players to the table with public financing limited almost exclusively to support the cost of parking.
“All appear to meet our land use objectives. All appear to bring unique aspects,” city project director George Austin said late Friday afternoon.
JDS is proposing a $186.4 million to $203.2 million project with a hotel, entertainment establishments, terraced gathering areas, public food hall, health and wellness facilities and a whopping 250,000 square feet of office space for booming Exact Sciences Corp., as well as another 107,000 square feet if the company wants to expand. Exact Sciences, which has headquarters on the city’s West Side and a new lab in the Novation Campus off Rimrock Road, has created the first and only federal approved noninvasive colorectal cancer screening test now available for use in the U.S. and Europe.
“We’ve invested a lot of time and effort in Judge Doyle Square,” Hammes president Robert Dunn said of his decision to stay in the process. “It’s a site I really feel has potential to change Madison in a really meaningful way.”
The JDS proposal will strengthen Downtown and make the site lively 365 days a year, Dunn said, adding that it’s believed the last time a major employer like Exact Sciences brought its corporate headquarters Downtown was in 1975, when Verex moved to its new headquarters next to James Madison Park on Lake Mendota.
Exact Sciences is working exclusively with JDS to find a site for its headquarters and prefers to be at Judge Doyle Square, chairman and CEO Kevin Conroy said.
“Being in the center of the city is an exciting place for our employees to be,” Conroy said, adding that the Downtown has attractive offerings, opportunities to use alternative transportation, and synergy with UW-Madison. “Having a headquarters Downtown just makes sense.”
Between 500 to 600 workers could be located at the site, he said.
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Beitler Real Estate Services of Chicago, which is proposing the least expensive project at $112.8 million, is offering two mid-priced hotels, city office space, housing and parking, and is the lone entity not seeking any public support, not even for parking.
The company, is fact, is proposing to lease land from the city with $750,000 annual payments that along with other revenue could help the city pay for parking facilities, new city office space and renovating the Municipal Building, president J. Paul Beitler said.
The city has struggled on the financing component of the redevelopment, and his company’s proposal offers a real way to finance the project, Beitler said.
Doyle Square Development, comprised of Urban Land Interests of Madison and North Central Group of Middleton, is proposing a hotel with dual Marriott brands, housing, office and retail space, and 1,302 parking spaces on five underground levels.
Vermillion Development of Chicago has a $189.5 million proposal with a Marriott-branded hotel, restaurant, meeting space, housing, office space and 1,055 parking spaces.
Doyle Square Development and Vermillion Development executives could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
Project’s winding road
The city’s Judge Doyle Square negotiating team will next analyze all of the new proposals and the Board of Estimates will make a recommendation on a developer to the full council. The negotiating team will submit a preliminary report to the board on May 11.
After years of study, the city first began a process seeking developers in February 2013 and chose JDS a year later. The city and JDS then began protracted negotiations on details of the project. Negotiations got complicated when city officials voiced concern about the high public cost of a full-service hotel with a dedicated block of 250 rooms for Monona Terrace and underground parking, and talks shifted to how to downsize the project.
In the late fall, city negotiators and JDS made changes, including scaling back the hotel, that would have cut the city’s tax increment financing (TIF) investment to about $20 million for a roughly $147 million project from the previous estimate of $47 million for a $174.2 million project.
Those concepts still would still have required another $28.3 million from the city, paid largely through the parking utility, to replace Government East, as well as for other parking and for a bike center requested by the city on that block.