Development proposal recommended for Judge Doyle Square - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Development proposal recommended for Judge Doyle Square

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The city's Judge Doyle Square committee Monday recommended it enter into negotiations with company JDS Development to renovate two downtown blocks.

The proposal calls for the area, known as Judge Doyle Square, to be redeveloped. The municipal building located there would be remodeled, although JDS said it does not know if the city would enlist its services for that portion of the development since the building will still house city offices.

The proposal as written also includes the building of a hotel and new parking ramp.

The estimated cost of the redevelopment is $139 million, although council members stressed that number is likely to change as the proposal goes forward. The project would be financed in part through a tax incremental finance, or TIF, district. 

"TIF is a way the city can help the development move forward by loaning money to the project that essentially gets paid back through the taxes the project pays," said Ald. Mark Clear.

Although Andy Olsen, who attended Monday night's committee meeting, said he does not think taxpayer money should be used in connection with the development.

"We're against corporate welfare that takes money out of our pockets as residents and puts it into wealthy developers' pockets," said Olsen, who is a member of Citizens Against Subsidized Hotels.

The committee's recommendation will now be introduced at Tuesday night's city council meeting. It will be referred to various city committees and, after review, would have to be approved by the full council for the city to begin negotiations with JDS.

The committee recommended the JDS plan rather than a proposal from Journeyman Group. If negotiations with JDS fail, the city retains the right to attempt to re-negotiate with Journeyman.

Clear said he thinks the council will eventually approve the plan, and Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, who served on the Judge Doyle Square committee, said she believes the development will make downtown Madison a more vibrant place.

"I think it would really transform two of the most important blocks of our downtown," Bidar-Sielaff said.

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