In another twist in a winding saga, Madison’s finance committee says the city should now reopen the process to all developers to realize the massive Judge Doyle Square project south of Capitol Square.
The Board of Estimates on Monday voted 4-2 to reopen the process after exclusive talks with JDS Development collapsed last week when a cornerstone tenant, Exact Sciences Corp., announced it will instead expand at University Research Park on the West Side.
Mayor Paul Soglin and Ald. Mike Verveer wanted to re-engage JDS and three other development teams that offered projects in the spring. Their proposal would give the developers a chance to adjust proposals by Dec. 18 before the city decides how to move forward with a redevelopment of blocks that hold the Madison Municipal Building and Government East parking garage.
Instead, the Board of Estimates recommended the four teams and any others with an interest be given until Jan. 18 to submit revised or fresh proposals.
If the board’s recommendation stands, “it’s not fatal” to the project, Verveer said.
The City Council will make a final decision on how to proceed on Nov. 17.
In May, the city began exclusive negotiations with JDS, composed of the Hammes Co. of Madison and Majestic Realty of Los Angeles, and set the three others aside.
The talks resulted in a $200 million project with up to 357,000 square feet of office space for Exact Sciences, a 216-room hotel, commercial space, a bicycle center and 1,250 parking spaces. It required a $46.7 million public investment. The concept collapsed when Exact Sciences announced its change of plans.
It’s still unclear if any, or all, of the teams — JDS, Doyle Square Development of Madison and Middleton, and Beitler Real Estate Services, Doyle Square Development and Vermilion Development, both of Chicago — are still interested.
Ald Sara Eskrich, 13th District, proposed that the process move forward without JDS but with the three other original developers to best honor a council resolution from the spring that said the city should turn to the others if exclusive talks with JDS didn’t work out. The board deadlocked 3-3 and Soglin declined to break the tie, killing the proposal.
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Then, Ald. Maurice Cheeks, 10th District, proposed opening the process to all comers, saying that would be the fairest approach if JDS were allowed to remain. The proposal also extended the time for staff review of submissions to the end of February.
“There might be other developers out there,” said Ald. Barbara Harrington-McKinney, 1st District.
Soglin said the move to reopen the process could force the four original proposers to “throw up their hands and walk.”
Verveer shared the concern, saying, “I am concerned about those who have been asked to wait becoming frustrated by us constantly moving the football and changing the rules.”
Other parts of the Soglin-Verveer resolution remained intact. The submittals must: maintain strict adherence to the city’s original request for proposals; deliver agreements with organized labor; provide a better parking garage design including an option for all parking underground; have a minimum 250-room hotel; and maintain a balance in a Downtown tax increment financing (TIF) district equal to the balance at the end of 2014.
The TIF district, called TID No. 25, had a surplus of $19.5 million at the end of 2014 and is projected to have $55 million by 2023.
On Tuesday, the council will begin making final decisions for the 2016 budget and will consider competing approaches on financing Judge Doyle Square.
Soglin and Verveer proposed a budget amendment to cut $12 million in TIF support for Exact Sciences and $10 million in short-term borrowing for Judge Doyle Square.
It would provide $35.4 million in TIF for eligible project costs, including parking and acquiring city-owned land. It lets the city tap TID No. 25 or other TIF districts.
But Alds. Marsha Rummel, 6th District, and Chris Schmidt, 11th District, have an alternative that deletes Judge Doyle Square from the capital budget and delivers $27.5 million to replace the aging Government East garage and add private stalls with the structure’s top able to support future development.