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The state has chosen a team of companies from across the Midwest to redevelop the Hill Farms site, a massive project set to become the largest state-owned office building.

State officials announced plans to negotiate a contract for the project, which involves buying and replacing the home of the state Department of Transportation, in a letter sent Monday to the winning development group. That team includes Gilbane, which has an office in Milwaukee; C.D. Smith, based in Fond du Lac; HGA, headquartered in Minneapolis; and SmithGroup JJR, headquartered in Detroit.

“Moving forward, we will be engaging in negotiations about the overall cost, specific project details, and a number of items that need to be resolved prior to the final contract being executed,” Department of Administration spokesman Cullen Werwie told the State Journal. “Given the complexity of the project, we anticipate taking a few months on these negotiations, at which point we’d move forward with the additional approvals needed to execute the final contract.”

The letter, addressed to Russell Broderick, Gilbane’s vice president, says the state could still pick another team if they can’t reach an agreement through negotiations with the joint venture.

“This letter is the notice of intent to award a contract and does not constitute a contractual commitment,” the letter reads. “If a contractual agreement cannot be reached during negotiations, the DOA reserves the right to end negotiations and move to the next highest scoring proposer.”

The letter was signed by Cindy Torstveit, administrator with the Division of Facilities Management.

The project involves buying the existing 400,000-square-foot Hill Farms state office building — at 4802 Sheboygan Ave., which was built 57 years ago — and the remainder of the 21-acre site, designing and constructing a 600,000-square-foot replacement building on the site, providing up to 2,500 parking spaces, and purchasing the Badger Road state office building that will be vacated.

The group will be able to redevelop the entire 4.35-acre Badger Road site near Park Street and the Beltline.

In November, the state DOA announced four development groups were still in the running for the project after two additional teams did not make the first cut. Other groups included a team featuring T. Wall Enterprises, led by prominent Dane County real estate developer and Republican campaign contributor Terrence Wall; the Minneapolis-based Mortenson construction company; and Chicago-based McCaffery Interests.

“I’ll look forward to hearing from the state and hearing how they thought our submission was,” said Ed Woodbury, president of McCaffery.

The massive project planned for Madison’s West Side could cost taxpayers up to $196 million, according to the request for proposals issued on Oct. 10.

Werwie previously said about 40 potential bidders attended a mandatory tour of the property on Oct. 17.

The DOA has not yet named those serving on the Hill Farms project selection committee. That information needs to remain confidential until negotiation of the contract is completed, DOA Chief Legal Counsel Gregory D. Murray wrote Monday in response to a public records request for that information.

“We have determined that until negotiation of the contract is completed, the requested information must remain confidential for competitive or bargaining reasons,” Murray wrote. “Evaluators may be discouraged from serving if they believe that their names will be released while the procurement process is ongoing.”

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State Government Reporter for Wisconsin State Journal