Gebhardt Development proposal for Judge Doyle Square

The Madison City Council has chosen Gebhardt Development to build a tower on the block of Judge Doyle Square with the municipal building. Gebhardt's plan is a $52 million, mixed-use project with 196 apartments, 78 of which would be deemed as affordable.

The Madison City Council on Tuesday chose Gebhardt Development over two other bidders to build a mixed-use tower above a parking structure that is nearing completion as part of the Judge Doyle Square project.

Gebhardt beat out the competitors largely because its plan had the highest number of affordable housing units — 78 of 196 apartments would be at or below 60% of the county median income, or $49,560 for a family of three. Council members approved the project on a near-unanimous voice vote. 

Stone House Development, of Madison, proposed 159 apartments, with 20 dedicated for renters with household incomes at or below 60% of county medium income, and 17 for those with household incomes at or below 80% of county median income, or $66,030 for a family of three.

A third developer, Mandel Group, of Milwaukee, proposed 150 apartments, 30 of which would be for renters making less than 80% of the county median income.

Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District, said it is imperative to have a "significant" amount of affordable housing in Madison, especially Downtown. 

“In most every case, Gebhardt development is the absolute solid proposal that we have before us tonight. In every aspect, they are the top.” Verveer said. “They deliver the most of pretty much everything we were looking for.”

Ald. Donna Moreland, 7th District, was opposed to Gebhardt proposal at the finance committee meeting because the company said it was open to segregating the affordable housing units from the other units. Having a segregated building would be going backwards, Moreland said. 

Lee Christiansen, development manager for Gebhardt, later said the company is “exploring ways to intersperse" the units. 

The city finance committee voted nearly-unanimous to support Gebhardt Monday.

An updated property value estimate Gebhardt increased the value of the Gebhardt building by $12 million. Higher property valuations result in more property taxes to the city and other taxing bodies.

The Gebhardt proposal's projected value is now estimated at $40 million, while Stone House's is estimated at $29 million and Mandel's is estimated at $28 million.

In addition to the apartments, Gebhardt’s plan includes 26,000 square feet of commercial space and 7,000 square feet of retail space. 

The finance committee said it was encouraged by Gebhardt's new partnership with contractor JP Cullen, which is building the parking structure below.

George Cullen, vice president of JP Cullen, said his company's "intimate knowledge" of the parking structure will help Gebhardt's structurally complex design run smoothly. 

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George Austin, member of a special city negotiating team that voted for Stone House over Gebhardt, raised concerns about the feasibility of the project. Since the building is larger and has a more complicated structure, it could see delays with securing an investor and construction, he said.

However, any of the three proposals would lead to a "successful outcome," Austin said. "We received three excellent proposals from three very qualified teams."

Alcohol license renewals 

In other business, the council approved renewals of liquor licenses for 14 Downtown bars, with conditions that will limit late entry into the venues. 

Beginning July 1, no additional patrons will be allowed to enter the bars after 1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights, even if they were previously in them the same night. The restriction is one strategy meant to address a rise in police calls Downtown.

Police have said the behaviors of drunken college students have not changed but more non-students are coming to the area late on weekend nights, some of whom are gang-involved, armed or both.

Among the bars that will have new restrictions: The Double U, Wando’s, State Street Brats, Vintage Spirits & Grill, Whiskey Jack’s Saloon, Danny’s Pub, Chasers Bar & Grille and Red Rock Saloon. 

Kollege Klub and Mondays refused to accept the restrictions, and had their licenses renewed without the time constraints. 

The committee also approved the renewal of the liquor license of Madison's only strip club, Visions. The future of the license was unclear after a shooting at the venue raised concerns that the strip club was contributing to crime. Visions attorney Jeff Scott Olson denied such allegations, stating they had "no factual basis." 

After hearing of steps taken to ensure safety, including metal detectors at the door, the Alcohol License and Review Committee unanimously recommended approving Visions' liquor license in May. The council followed the recommendation. 

Assistant city attorney Jennifer Zilavy said the city is drafting a non-renewal complaint on the license that will be completed in July. 

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Emily Hamer is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She joined the paper in April 2019 and was formerly an investigative reporting intern at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.