The Edgewater Hotel redevelopment project -- which has been hotly contested for years -- moved closer to reality today, after the city approved two remaining conditions: proof of financing and approval of agreements with contractors.
Steve Cover, director of planning and community and economic development, says city staff members met with the developers, led by Bob Dunn, on Wednesday to review the required documents for the $98 million project.
"We reviewed their documents and everything is in order," Cover said. "The project at this point will be moving forward."
The project has had numerous twists and turns, with developers battling neighborhood preservationists.
In 2009, the Landmarks Commission denied a certificate of appropriateness for the project. But Dunn appealed that ruling to the Common Council. The council, in an unprecedented move, overruled the commission.
Then there was a brutal fight on the council over $16 million in tax incremental financing for the project in 2010, which Dunn eventually won.
But fallout from that decision helped Paul Soglin unseat Mayor Dave Cieslewicz in 2011. In his 2012 budget, Soglin cut TIF funding for the project to $3.3 million. That seemed to kill the project, but Dunn salvaged it by finding private investors -- including Jerome Frautschi and Pleasant Rowland, benefactors of the Overture Center -- to make up the difference.
This week, Dunn proved he had the financing to do the project and that his labor contracts were in order. "This was the final two check-offs for the final conditions of the project," Cover says. "It was pretty standard stuff. They submitted the information and now we're going to move on."
Dunn has a few things left to do, but they're mostly formalities. Before getting a building permit, Cover says Dunn will have to show building plans and detail how the project will proceed, including where vehicles will be staged.
According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Dunn hopes to begin construction on Nov. 19, two days after the last UW-Madison football game of the year. The hotel staff will be laid off. The hotel is expected to reopen in 2014. The project will add a new nine-story tower, renovate the original hotel building and remove part of the 1970s addition. The new hotel will have 189 rooms, 10 condos, meeting and retail space. Public space and an ice skating rink are also part of the plans.