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Judge Doyle Square

Three development teams have submitted competing proposals for private mixed-use projects above a public underground parking garage nearing completion at Judge Doyle Square. 

Three developers are offering proposals for big mixed-use projects priced between $38.2 million and $52 million above a public underground parking garage nearing completion at Judge Doyle Square in Madison’s Downtown.

Gebhardt Development and Stone House Development, both of Madison, and Mandel Group, of Milwaukee, on Monday responded to a city request for development proposals with distinct designs for a private portion of the project site, which includes the landmark Madison Municipal Building and aging Government East parking garage blocks.

“I’m glad we have choices,” said Mayor-elect Satya Rhodes-Conway, who takes office Tuesday. “I’m looking forward to getting better acquainted with these choices and looking forward to a process to pick the best one.”

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Gebhardt Development's $52 million, mixed-use project with 196 apartments.

The submissions continue momentum on the redevelopment of the Municipal Building block. The city is now completing the $50 million, 560-space public underground parking garage there to replace Government East, and the City Council has approved $11 million to build ground-level commercial space and two floors of private parking — collectively called the podium — above the garage.

The new proposals are:

  • Gebhardt’s $52 million project with 196 apartments and 26,000 square feet of commercial space and amenities above the podium. Seventy-eight units would be set aside for renters with household incomes at or below 60% of the Dane County median income, or $49,560 for a family of three. Gebhardt is requesting $1.75 million in city affordable housing funds and has proposed to pay $7.5 million to buy the air rights and the podium, subject to structural modifications.
  • Mandel’s $38.2 million project with 144 apartments and 7,000 square feet of retail space in the podium. Twenty-nine units would be set aside for renters making less than 80% of the county median income, or $66,030 for a family of three. Mandel is seeking an unspecified amount of city funding, to be negotiated at a later date, for the affordable housing. It has proposed a lease arrangement for the podium and a purchase of the air rights for $1 million within 10 years of occupancy.
  • Stone House’s $40 million project with 159 apartments and 7,000 square feet of retail space in the podium. Thirty-seven units would be restricted to renters with household incomes at or below 80% of county medium income. Stone House is requesting $1.2 million in city affordable housing funds and has proposed to pay $5 million to buy the air rights and the podium.

The city’s preliminary timeline calls for completing a staff analysis and review by the Finance Committee in May, with the committee making a final recommendation for council consideration in June.

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Mandel Group's $38.2 million, mixed-use project with 144 apartments.

“I’m very happy we have three proposals,” said Natalie Erdman, the city’s director for Planning, Community and Economic Development. “They all meet our minimum criteria. Now we have a lot of work to do.”

Talks with Beitler

The proposals come as the city continues discussions with another private developer, Beitler Real Estate Services of Chicago, on a hotel and housing on the Government East site after the garage is demolished.

For at least eight years, the city has wanted to redevelop parts of blocks that now hold the Municipal Building and Government East. In 2016, after several misfires, the city chose Beitler to develop both blocks, with plans eventually emerging for a $186 million project with a hotel, housing and commercial space in three glassy buildings, as well as underground parking.

But in January, to resolve a legal spat over part of the project, the council approved paying Beitler $700,000 in exchange for the developer giving up its rights to develop the Municipal Building block. The city then issued the new request for proposals for housing or commercial uses there.

Beitler, meanwhile, was to proceed with the development of a roughly 250-room hotel to serve Monona Terrace and 204 apartments in separate towers on the Government East block.

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Stone House Development's $40 million, mixed-use project with 159 apartments.

Although legal issues were seemingly resolved in early January, each side then claimed that the other was in default of a development agreement. In an exchange of letters in February and March, Beitler claimed city actions have made it “impossible” to get timely financing, and the city threatened termination of the agreement.

In recent weeks, the sides have continued to communicate about what is needed for Beitler to secure land-use approvals for the Government East block, Erdman said.

Beitler has made no submissions but recently sent notice to the neighborhood that it will be seeking a major alteration to previous plans in order to replace underground parking with a hotel swimming pool, a requirement of the hotelier, Erdman said. The city anticipated a possible design change of the hotel and apartments from shimmering glass-sheathed towers, but Beitler has not sought exterior design modifications, she said.

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