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Madison City Council again denies $600,000 payment to Judge Doyle Square developer

November 14, 2018

For the second time, the Madison City Council has voted against a $600,000 payment to the developer of the massive Judge Doyle Square project to resolve a legal dispute.

The council voted 14-6 Tuesday against authorizing the payment to Beitler Real Estate Services, of Chicago, that stemmed from a lawsuit Beitler filed against the city over the Downtown development. Last month, the council voted 10-8 in favor of the payment, but it failed to reach the 11 votes needed to pass.

Ald. Steve King, 7th District, requested the payment be reconsidered since he was absent from the previous meeting.

Ald. Mike Verveer, whose 4th District includes the project, said changed his vote from supporting the payment to opposing it so he is able to request the issue be reconsidered again.

“For the $600,000, we get to go down this path again, and it’s a path that may very well lead us to yet more litigation for nothing in return,” Ald. David Ahrens, 15th District, said before Tuesday’s vote. “This is a really bad deal, and I hope we have the guts to say no.”

The Judge Doyle Square project calls for a hotel, apartments, retail and commercial space, and parking across three towers on the blocks that hold the Madison Municipal Building and Government East parking garage.

Beitler sued the city in June after the City Council authorized more funding to construct first-floor retail, two levels of private parking and a structural slab, collectively called the “podium,” above an underground, public parking ramp now being constructed on the Madison Municipal Block.

Beitler claimed the city was trying to seize the rights to develop the private portion for its own financial gains, while city staff maintained the developer asked the city to consider building the podium due to rising construction costs.

In August, Beitler voluntarily dropped the lawsuit, and the two parties negotiated a $600,000 payment that would have explicitly given the city the right to build and own the podium.

As part of the rejected payment agreement, Beitler would have had to start construction on its hotel within 18 months of the podium being completed, instead of the current agreement that grants the developer two years to start building any component of the private construction.

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