Cnare: 'We'll have an ugly hotel sitting on our lake.'
The Edgewater Hotel redevelopment project, which has consumed Madison politics for years, returned to the Madison Common Council on Tuesday. But this time the council failed to muster the votes for the project, which appears dead.
The council approved the $98 million project in an all-night session in May 2010. Blowback from that decision helped Mayor Paul Soglin defeat incumbent Dave Cieslewicz, who had vigorously promoted the project. In his 2012 budget, Soglin cut tax incremental financing for the hotel from $16 million to $3.3 million.
Ten council members sponsored a budget amendment to restore the TIF funding during Tuesday's meeting. The council heard hours of public testimony and asked questions of staff but did not debate the measure. Soglin called for a vote shortly after midnight and the council deadlocked, 10-10. The mayor refused to break the tie, allowing the motion to fail.
"We'll have an ugly hotel sitting on our lake until a storm sweeps it away," council president Lauren Cnare, who supported the project, said after the meeting.
Of the members who were on the council for the May 2010 debate, only Ald. Larry Palm changed his vote -- from "yes" to "no." "At that time, enough people had sprinkled their fairy dust around that I thought, 'Okay, I'll give it a try.'" But in the past year and a half, Palm decided the project had little benefit to the public and little support in his district.
Soglin said after the meeting that public support for Edgewater had been exaggerated. His office received 154 emails about the project, of which his staff determined 107 had some connection to the developer or the business community.
There's still an outside chance developer Bob Dunn of Hammes Corp. could get the funding this year. The TIF financing was approved in this year's budget, and Dunn announced over the weekend that he'd secured the private financing portion for the deal. But it would require a rush to complete the necessary documentation needed.
City Attorney Michael May told the council, "It's well nigh impossible we could complete all of the documents by the end of the year."
And Dunn told the council that without city help, the project is over. "In my opinion, that is a very serious missed opportunity for the city."
Note: This story has been corrected to note that the mayor did not cast a deciding "no" vote, but declined to vote to break a tie.