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More than Two Years of Effort May Prove Fruitless as Madison, Wisconsin City Council
Vote Kills Tax Incremental Financing Needed for Edgewater Hotel Plan to Move Forward

The Proposed $98 Million Project Appears to be Dead

By Dean Mosiman, The Wisconsin State JournalMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Nov. 17, 2011--After more than two years of effort, the proposed $98 million redevelopment of the Edgewater hotel seems dead, with faint hope of revival.

The Madison City Council Wednesday evening voted 16-3 to adopt its 2012 capital budget, about 18 hours after refusing an amendment to reauthorize $16 million in public assistance.

With no debate, the council deadlocked 10-10 early Wednesday, with Mayor Paul Soglin refusing to break the tie to include a $16 million tax incremental financing (TIF) loan for the controversial redevelopment.

Instead, the council adopted Soglin's proposal to offer $3.3 million in TIF for the project -- not enough, according to Hammes Co. President Robert Dunn, to cover costs associated with a public terrace and staircase and make changes to accommodate city demands.

Dunn quickly left the council chambers after the vote early Wednesday and couldn't be reached later.

"I'd say the most likely scenario is that it's over," Ald. Mark Clear, 19th District, said Wednesday afternoon.

When deliberations resumed Wednesday evening, Clear and Alds. Bridget Maniaci, Steve King, Tim Bruer and Chris Schmidt chastised the council for denying the funding, arguing that the city is passing up an opportunity to grow its tax base, breaking its promises and sending a chill through the business community.

"The capital budget sells the city and its future short," Maniaci said. "It's not a government I'm proud of."

Ald. Brian Solomon, 10th District, said that he and others support redevelopment of the Edgewater but not the large investment and that the capital budget overall is sound.

Soglin, who has railed about runaway borrowing, said it was necessary to cut capital spending in the next year. Alds. King, Maniaci and Joe Clausius voted against the final capital budget Wednesday.

The Edgewater redevelopment was approved in May 2010, and the council voted 12-6 to include $16 million in TIF in the 2011 budget. But the project was delayed, largely due to recently decided litigation challenging the city's approval.

Hammes still had to complete a TIF agreement with city staff, and the council still needed to approve a resolution with a 15-vote super majority to borrow funds this year. With time running out, the council on Wednesday instead considered whether to reauthorize the money for 2012.

Dunn could still try to beat the deadline and get the money this year. But Clear said he was "not optimistic" the developer would find cooperation at City Hall.

All told, the council decided 23 amendments to the capital budget. The $196.7 million plan, 21 percent less than 2011, requires $94.6 million in borrowing, 32.6 percent lower than the current year. But the big decision was on the Edgewater.

Ald. Larry Palm, 15th District, changed his vote from last year to a no, and the council's six freshmen voted 4-2 against.

Freshman Lisa Subeck, 1st District, was seen as the swing vote. "I was pretty torn," she said Wednesday afternoon. "Ultimately, I could not defend it to my constituents."

Voting for the $16 million were: Alds. Clear, Bruer, Clausius, King, Schmidt, Maniaci, Lauren Cnare, Matt Phair, Scott Resnick and Paul Skidmore.

Casting no votes were: Alds. Subeck, Solomon, Mike Verveer, Anita Weier, Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, Sue Ellingson, Jill Johnson, Larry Palm, Satya Rhodes-Conway and Marsha Rummel.


(c)2011 The Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wis.)

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