The proposals are expected to be made public later this week.
For city officials, the hard work begins now as they must sort through the proposals and weigh how much financial aid is appropriate for the project.
"This is such an intense process over the next couple of weeks that we've scheduled numerous meetings," says Ald. Mike Verveer, whose district represents parts of downtown, including this project. He sits on the Judge Doyle Square Committee, which is scheduled to meet seven times between May 9 and June 24, to review proposals and interview developers.
The project includes two city blocks from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard east, between Doty and Wilson streets. There are several goals for the project, some of which are controversial and others that are unavoidable. The city needs to replace the Government East parking ramp, at Pinckney and Doty streets, which is badly deteriorated and in need of repairs every year. The city wants to replace it with 520 to 600 stalls, completely underground.
The more controversial part of the project is a call for a massive hotel to complement Monona Terrace.
Supporters of the project contend that Monona Terrace needs another hotel with 400 to 500 rooms nearby in order to attract more conventions. But critics say that strategy has never worked.
Depending on which developer the city selects, the project could also include various retail, office, entertainment or housing components. Officials estimate the project may need $25 to $50 million in financial aid.
Verveer says that the city has a "couple of years" before it would have to decide how much to fund the private portions of the project. Parking construction could begin next year, but hotel construction wouldn't begin until at least 2015.
The city had earlier contemplated letting developers convert the Municipal Building into a hotel and constructing new city office space behind it. That idea was later rejected, although Verveer notes, "there have been rumors on the street that some developers might still propose converting the Municipal Building to a hotel."