Judge Doyle Square project brought to Madison City Council - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Judge Doyle Square project brought to Madison City Council

MADISON (WKOW) -- It's a proposal first announced by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz back in 2010. It called for a public market square in downtown Madison and a rail station. But those ideas are out, and a new plan is on the table.

Named after federal Judge James Doyle, the Judge Doyle Square project could cost $200 million and take nearly 8 years to complete, but some say it's worth it.

A team of city staffers presented their project for the block between Pinckney Street and MLK Boulevard to the city council Tuesday night. Researchers say all of its details make it one of the most complex plans in city history.

Judge Doyle Square would replace the 54-year-old Government East Parking Ramp with an underground 5-level one. It would add a bike center, hotels, apartments, office and retail space.

The project would restore and update the historic--but aging--Madison Municipal Building. That's something Mayor Paul Soglin says is long overdue.

"[We have to] deal with the poor quality of heat and air conditioning, the wear and tear of the building, which is close to 80 years old," says Soglin.

Another focus of the plan--boosting revenue for the Monona Terrace--whose leaders say they're missing out on money-making conferences and conventions because of a lack of hotel rooms in the area. They say many conference organizers won't book the Monona Terrace unless they can guarantee 400 hotel rooms within walking distance of the facility.

"[Conventions] generate 50% of our revenues, so additional conferences and conventions are our life blood for the future," says Executive Director of the Monona Terrace, Gregg McManners.

McManners anticipates the project would bring at least $1 million every year to the Monona Terrace, and Mayor Soglin says--even more for the city. Soglin says the city would gain from an expanded property tax base and hotel revenue taxes, along with additional money into the economy as more people come to town.

Overall, Soglin approves of much of the project. He says it's going to be a real challenge though, that could have a lot of rewards if done right.

"There's some tough questions there that need to be answered, but in terms of the overall concept--it works," he says.

The plan poses different options for each development, which would change how much the city would spend on the project. Madison's parking utility would set aside nearly $25 million for the parking garage. If the city builds a new municipal building, and leaves the old one to developers to create a hotel, they'd spend up to nearly $29 million. If the city stays in the building, they'd still have to spend close to $18 million to upgrade current conditions.

The report shows public investment levels range from $25 million to $50 million depending on the scope of the final project.

Now, the council will review the proposal. Then, they'll hold public comment sessions. Mayor Soglin anticipates a lot of discussion and some tweaking of the reports.

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