Mayor Dave Cieslewicz will include a $16 million financing package for Edgewater Hotel redevelopment in his budget, even though the developer is withdrawing plans and canceling city meetings for the proposed $109 million project.
Hammes Sports and Entertainment will instead come up with a new design for expanding and renovating the hotel.
"There are a lot of good ideas out there," says Bob Dunn, president of Hammes Sports and Entertainment, who officially announced cancellation of existing plans today. "We've had some productive discussions, and I just felt we were at a good point in time to step and back and give some of these ideas a little while to mature."
Dunn had previously hoped that construction would begin in early 2010.
The Madison Board of Estimates will review the mayor's executive budget, which includes an Edgewater tax incremental financing (TIF) request, on Monday and Tuesday. The Common Council won't act on the budget until mid-November.
"I think we'll get a better idea of where things are at between now and then," says mayoral spokesperson Rachel Strauch-Nelson.
It's too early to say what the new concept will be. In a statement (PDF), the company promises to "explore some design ideas to see if we can find creative solutions to address the concerns we are hearing."
"We're just keeping an open mind," says Sarah Carpenter, spokesperson for Hammes Sports. But she stresses that comments from area residents and the Urban Design Commission will be weighed.
Dunn says the amount of a TIF request is unlikely to change, since the project's core concepts will probably stay the same. He earlier shared his decision Saturday during a steering committee meeting of the Mansion Hill district of Capitol Neighborhoods Inc.
"That the two sides are communicating with one another is, I think, is an important breakthrough, frankly," says Ald. Mike Verveer, who attended the neighborhood meeting. "For months, the Hammes Company and the neighborhood were not speaking. If it's possible that the developer and the neighborhood can reach an agreement on most items, it makes the political 'sell' all the easier for both land-use approval and the TIF request."
Ald. Bridget Maniaci, in whose district the project will go, could not attend the meeting due to family obligations, but learned of the developer's plan to pull back last week. "It's a big step forward," Maniaci says.
Hammes Co. had been scheduled to revisit the proposal before the Madison Landmarks Commission Monday evening, and at the Urban Design Commission Wednesday. These planned presentations are now canceled, as is an appearance at an Oct. 19 meeting of the Plan Commission.
The original concept called for a public terrace at the top of Wisconsin Avenue and an 11-story tower on adjacent land owned by National Guardian Life Insurance. Plans included preservation of both the original 1948 hotel and almost all of its 1973 addition.
Maniaci attended Urban Design Commission's Sept. 2 review. "They said you could push this further," she says, with a plan that would be itself be an architectural landmark instead of a "background building." The commission also wanted more of a horizontal treatment, to blend with the original hotel.
That's exactly what architect Kenton Peters and Troy Thiel, chair of the City of Madison Downtown Coordinating Committee, suggested in their own Edgewater design, created to aid public discussion. Dunn calls it an interesting idea, similar to some Hammes has already explored, but just one of many possible approaches.
For his part, Thiel is enthusiastic. "I have no doubt that the Hammes group can develop a great hotel project," he says. "Hopefully this is the beginning of a much-improved process and product that will make Madison and downtown better. We cannot let this important opportunity be missed."