Seeking more time for further research and to address concerns, the Madison City Council pushed back a vote Tuesday on whether to take up for the third time a decision on authorizing a $600,000 payment to the developer of the Judge Doyle Square project until the new year.
The council will decide whether to reconsider the payment, which is meant to resolve a legal dispute with developer Beitler Real Estate Services of Chicago, at its Jan. 8 meeting. The $600,000 payment would give the city the explicit right to build and own a private portion of the massive Downtown project after the body denied last week for the second time the payment to Beitler.
But on a separate action, the City Council authorized the city to bid out construction of the disputed portion of the $186 million project.
Beitler said in a memo to city officials that if the current impasse is not resolved, it “will result in a lawsuit for damages associated with the entire project in excess of $40 million.”
“Nothing has really changed since last week, since we voted last week, other than a threatening letter from the developer,” said Ald. Rebecca Kemble, 18th District.
The project involves an under-construction, 560-stall public parking garage, a hotel, apartments, commercial and retail space, and parking on the blocks that hold the Madison Municipal Building and Government East parking ramp.
Beitler sued the city in June after the council approved $11 million to build first-floor retail, two levels of private parking and a structural slab, collectively called the “podium,” above the public garage. The developer claimed the city was unilaterally seizing the rights of the podium, while the city maintained Beitler asked it to consider building the podium due to rising construction costs.
The lawsuit was voluntarily dropped by Beitler in August, and the two sides have since been negotiating their differences.
Ald. Mike Verveer, whose 4th District includes the project site, said the time until the January meeting will allow the city to get more information on Beitler’s hotel operator and brand, work on a room block agreement for the hotel, and research concerns raised by some City Council members.
The council, though, did support the final designs of the podium and OK’d the city to solicit bids on constructing it. Ald. David Ahrens, Beitler’s most vocal critic, was the lone opponent on a voice vote.
Last month, the council voted 10-8 in favor of the $600,000 payment, but it failed to get the 11 votes needed to pass. Then on Nov. 13 when the issue was reconsidered, members rejected it 14-6.
In other action, the council approved the extension of the Snow Emergency Zone to the Vilas and Greenbush neighborhoods. The zone exempts drivers from having to following the alternate-side parking rules, which are in effect from Nov. 15 through March 15, except when a snow emergency is declared.
Members also approved $400,000 to be paid by developer Urban Land Interests and builder J.H. Findorff & Sons over four years that will go toward supporting small, minority- and women-owned businesses.
The payment is partly a settlement and partly a gift after ULI and Findorff did not reach a goal of hiring enough Small Business Enterprise subcontractors on a $115 million project Downtown that received $13.5 million in tax incremental financing (TIF) from the city.
Additionally, Madison received a new sister city Tuesday. The council approved a sister city connection with Bahir Dar, Ethiopia, making it the second African city to have such a connection. It becomes the 10th sister city for Wisconsin’s capital.