City’s capital budget doesn’t include Judge Doyle Square hotel

$250 million proposal funds neighborhood centers, affordable housing initiative
City’s capital budget doesn’t include Judge Doyle Square hotel
Paul Soglin

City leaders received a first glimpse at Madison Mayor Paul Soglin’s $250 million capital budget Tuesday night.

While Soglin said there’s a lot of improvement money in the 2015 proposal for things like neighborhood centers, affordable housing and a public market, there’s no spending proposed on the long-talked-about Judge Doyle Square hotel.

Soglin said there’s no money in the budget for the hotel since the city council failed to act on that part of the plan.

Earlier this summer, the city’s developer called for nearly $50 million in public money to subsidize what the developer estimated was a more than $111 million plan. As time went on, it was more and more difficult to find any council member who supported that high price tag.

“I think we’ve been short sighted to only look at the option of a luxury hotel,” District 8 Alder Scott Resnick, who is challenging Soglin’s mayoral seat, says.

“We need a program for the hotel that is affordable and justified in return to the city taxpayers what it generates in terms of the TIF. We have yet to see a proposal that does that,” Soglin said.

The city is continuing to negotiate with the plan’s developer.

The mayor’s spokesperson said they are now waiting for the developer to come back with a new proposal. In the meantime there are still two parts of the Judge Doyle Square Development Plan included in the proposal, which includes renovating the Madison Municipal Building and the parking ramp behind it.

At Tues. night’s council meeting, President Chris Schmidt introduced a resolution he said will give negotiating teams until November to come up with some lower-cost options for the two plans included in Soglin’s proposal.

“We’ll figure out the hotel later,” Schmidt said. “It doesn’t presume anything about the hotel.”

The biggest commitments in the budget are for neighborhood centers and affordable housing.

Soglin said as the city continues to work its way out of past financial challenges, new issues are always popping up and take priority.

“There are still growing needs – some in new areas that were not previously budgeted, like dealing with the Emerald Ash Borer, the commitment to neighborhood centers and at the same time, maintaining the city’s traditional infrastructure,” Soglin said.

A few projects that did not make it into the mayor’s proposed budget include a new transit facility for maintenance and repairs and a development of a biodigester for food waste. Proposed improvements to Monroe Street were also pushed back to 2017. The $10 million street project was expected to start next year.