The Judge Doyle Square committee meets on Monday, Feb. 3 to discuss the competing proposals for the downtown development.
Madison is one step closer to hosting a second convention center hotel.
A city committee voted unanimously Monday night to move forward with the plan proposed by JDS Development to develop the two blocks next to Monona Terrace. The $215 million proposal for the Judge Doyle Square development calls for adding a new 308-room hotel and replacing a city-owned parking garage.
The competing proposal, from Texas-based Journeyman Group, was estimated at $179 million and called for a 352-room hotel in addition to retail and office space.
The next step is for the city and JDS Development to negotiate the specifics of the proposal, including planned street-level retail and dining space, office and residential spaces, and a bike center.
Though JDS's preferred plan, a $159 million proposal, would have converted the Madison Municipal Building into a hotel, the committee made known it wanted the building kept for civic use. Mayor Paul Soglin is opposed to turning the Municipal Building into a hotel.
Judge Doyle Square Committee members praised the creativity and flexibility of the JDS Development plan.
"The design is very visual," said Annette Miller. "It really engages you, and I think that as conversations go forward you can tell that you can really work with the developer on what these two blocks really need to look like for this community."
Bob Dunn, who leads the JDS Development team with the Hammes Company, said the project would help evolve Madison as a destination, bringing tourism and revenue to the city.
"I'm a lifelong Madison person," Dunn said. "This is an opportunity that I felt has a visionary effect on the city, and it's something that I very much want to be a part of."
Although committee member Sandra Torkildson ultimately voted for the JDS proposal, she said she was unable to fully assess the plan from Journeyman. Torkildson noted the developer was, at the request of committee members, still retooling its proposal to replace underground parking with above-ground parking to reduce the cost of the project. "How can we make a decision [on this plan]?" she asked before the committee voted. "We don't know what the project will look like."
Discussions for the Judge Doyle Square project started more than 15 months ago. The main impetus for the project is to provide more hotel rooms for Monona Terrace convention visitors. It also seeks to replace the aging Government East parking ramp.
Critics have questioned the city’s need for another hotel and the size of any city subsidy. As recently as last week, Soglin said he wanted to reassess the size of the hotel and type of services provided.
The JDS Development plan calls for $88 million in public investment into the project.
Some community members urged the committee before the vote to oppose subsidizing the construction of a private hotel, while a few others, such as Ald. Mark Clear, encouraged the committee to proceed with the project.
"Be bold and be daring, and build something that we can be proud of in this city," Clear said.
Dunn said he did not expect immediate support on every idea on a big project like the Judge Doyle Square development.
"We've really got to shape a plan, and a vision, and a financial structure that we can get the support you know that will be needed to take the project forward." he said.