Future Of Edgewater Project Is In Doubt

The plan to renovate the Edgewater Hotel might be dead after the Madison Common Council voted early Tuesday morning against providing $16 million in city financing for the project.

The council cast a 10-10 vote on an amendment that would have restored the $16 million in funding. Mayor Paul Soglin slashed that funding to $3.3 million in his budget proposal.

Soglin declined to cast the deciding vote Tuesday, which blocked the proposal from moving forward.

Jennifer Alexander, executive director of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, said the decision was a telling moment and that it was very disappointing.

“Communities and regions all across this nation are bending over backwards to have the kind of development that the Edgewater was,” Alexander said. “It is such a lost opportunity.”

Alexander said she worries this move will create a chilling effect and inhibit future development projects in the city.

“Think for a minute — if you were a person who wanted to invest in a community, wouldn’t this scare you?” Alexander asked.

But Soglin disagreed with that assessment. He said the Edgewater shouldn’t be the poster child for the way the city does business with developers.

The mayor said that, financially, the return on investment just wasn’t there, and there are many other developments more worthy of taxpayer dollars.

“Does the city have a record in some instances of being difficult for developers? The answer is certainly yes, it does,” Soglin said. “But I don’t put the Edgewater in that file. The Edgewater was a bad project. The Edgewater deserved to be turned down.”

There is still a very remote chance that the project will live on. Soglin said he will still sign off on the $16 million in tax increment financing if the process is complete by the end of the year — as it’s part of what was approved by the council last year.

The developer, Bob Dunn, said that he expected to get the necessary paperwork to the city by this week. But some said there’s just not enough time to get all of the work complete by the end of the year.

Dunn told the Common Council on Monday night that the project would not happen without the full $16 million in TIF funding. Dunn could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.