Early reports in July on the StartingBlock Madison proposal were unclear on who would develop the startup complex at the Kleuter Building, located on a sizable chunk of the old Mautz paint factory site on East Washington Avenue.
The project sponsors, who are leaders of the Capital Entrepreneurs tech group, announced they had chosen the downtown's leading development firm, Urban Land Interests, after issuing a request for proposals. This didn't sit well with the Mautz property owners, the Korb family's Archipelago Village LLC, who announced they intended to develop the site for StartingBlock.
"It was all very confusing," says Curt Brink, the Korb family's longtime financial advisor. "We've had the property for 11 years."
Both sides say they were at loggerheads, and none too happily at that. Brink says his development team had been carefully studying StartingBlock's needs for months when the ULI announcement came out of the blue. StartingBlock consultant George Austin says the project sponsors "began to lose confidence" that the Brink talks would ever produce a viable construction plan. Hence the decision to partner with ULI.
Whatever the hard feelings, the two sides rebooted negotiations, and the property owners agreed to present a development plan by Nov. 1. "This was a breakthrough," says Scott Resnick, the downtown alder and tech executive active in the StartingBlock planning.
That breakthrough saw StartingBlock working with Brink's development team, including Tri-North builders and Potter Lawson architects, to develop a site plan. Subsequent meetings have been productive and cooperative, says Resnick, who expects a financial pro forma for the construction plan to emerge by Nov. 1.
So is Urban Land Interests , which has developed Block 89 and other big projects on the Capital Square, out of the picture? Not really. If the Mautz site falls through, Austin says Urban Land might take the lead on another downtown site.