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Sunday, March 1, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 15.0° F  Fog/Mist
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Judge Doyle Square price tag for city of Madison swells to $77 million
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Schmidt: 'That total is so high, I don't know how we support that.'

Developer Bob Dunn submitted his TIF request for the second block of the Judge Doyle Square project Friday, showing he needs another $32.3 million from the city, on top of an earlier request for $44.6 million for a hotel.

The project spans parts of two blocks between Doty and Wilson Streets, behind the Madison Municipal Building and across the street from Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. It calls for rebuilding the 55-year-old Government East parking garage, building another hotel for Monona Terrace, along with retail, high-end residential and a bike center.

On Tuesday, the city released the financial request from developer Bob Dunn, showing he needs $44.6 million in tax incremental financing in order to build a 318-room hotel behind the Municipal Building. On Friday, city officials released the financial request for the other block, where the Government East ramp is located. Dunn could not be reached for comment.

Here, Dunn is seeking only $3,977,498 in TIF. But the spreadsheet also shows $28.3 million in "city parking & bike ctr funding." Aaron Olver, the city's economic development director, has not yet closely looked at the request, but suspects that $28.3 million figure is the amount the city will need to contribute from its parking utility or some other source.

However, Olver cautions Isthmus on viewing that as the city giving the developer more money. "The $28 million figure is really the city making an investment in its own facility," he says. "I wouldn't necessarily couch it as a contribution."

Although it has not yet been established who will own the parking on this block, Olver says the city's parking utility would be getting revenue from it no matter what. The parking utility maintains a significant reserve fund for rebuilding projects -- its reserves are now between $22 and $23 million, according to Tom Woznick, parking operations manager for the city.

Ald. Chris Schmidt, the council's president, says the parking utility won't be able to cover the entire cost of the parking and bike center. But the city recently got the ability to use TIF funds to building parking structures.

"Allocating TIF for parking hasn't been something we've been able to do until this year," he says. "The parking utility itself cannot cover that cost, so something else would have to come into play."

Dunn would build 698 parking spaces on this block, including 160 underground. The parking construction is estimated at just over $27 million. There's also a $34.9 million residential component with 140 units, a $1.5 million retail component with 6,260 square feet of space, and a $2.4 million bike center 4,900 square feet.

Dunn estimates the entire cost of construction for the Government East block at $65.9 million. In addition to the city's contribution, he proposes using a $23.5 million loan and $10 million in equity to pay for it.

Across the street, the block with the hotel is expected to cost $111.1 million, bringing the entire project to $177 million.

The two financial requests from Dunn show that the city will have to come up with $76.9 million -- in various forms — for the entire Judge Doyle Square project. It would also be giving the Dunn the property, which was assessed at $12.5 million earlier this year.

Schmidt says the price tag is problematic. "That total is so high, I don't know how we support that," he says. "There might be a miracle out there."

The project has at various times been envisioned as a public market and a component in a high-speed train station. The later concept disintegrated when Gov. Scott Walker rejected an $810 million federal grant to fund high-speed rail through the state.

Schmidt says the city might have to rethink the project once more. "We can reconfigure the project however we want, and we've already done that what, four times now," he says. "There's a road forward. The question is what do we really need to get done and what can we afford?"

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