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Edgewater: Make up your mind, the janitorial staff is here

By Paul Snyder

I think if a developer had the foresight to see that the numbers 666 and 13 would be associated with his or her project, the early inclination would be to pursue something else.

Last night/this morning’s 13-hour debate over the Edgewater Hotel project started with a little dissertation on “the number of the beast,” and the problems associated with redeveloping that 64-year-old hotel located at 666 Wisconsin Ave. in Madison.

Anyone unfamiliar with the run of luck Brookfield-based Hammes Co. had with the Edgewater project need look no further than The Daily Reporter’s own Edgewater project page. At last count, I’d done 49 stories on the topic, and it had been through 28 city committee, commission or council meetings since July.

The project is an exercise in patience for Hammes, and that was made even more clear during the Common Council meeting that ended Wednesday morning in which the city granted the project the necessary approvals to move forward.

I’m personally too tired to check at this point, but Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, along with some council members and city staff told me it might be the longest council meeting in city history — it at least was the longest any of them experienced.

And when city government can watch the sun go down and come up, it’s a safe bet there’s going to be a lot of frustration in between. The city didn’t actually make its first of five votes on the project until about 4 a.m., some council members proposed amendments their colleagues blasted as “micromanaging” and “death by a thousand cuts,” and even the city’s cleaning staff had to inform Mayor Dave that municipal court started at 8 a.m., so the city needed to make up its mind.

But at the end of the day (night?), the fact is Hammes got the approvals it sought when it first ruminated on redeveloping the Edgewater in 2008.

It’s been a long, strange trip, and it’s not over yet. The city still must dicker over some of the project details — the Urban Design Commission needs to grant final approval and the Common Council likely will discuss project labor agreements at a future meeting.

But after the time and energy put into the project — Dunn said Tuesday night he could not think of another project that challenged him more — it must have been nice for the Hammes representatives to emerge from council chambers into a sunny morning.

There’s no doubt that a lot (and I mean a lot) of time and work put both Hammes and the city at this point. But when you’ve got numbers like 666 and 13 bandying about, maybe it’s not such a stretch to consider Wednesday an oddly lucky day.

Paul Snyder, a staff writer at The Daily Reporter, wrote this after 27 straight hours of coherence. Unfortunately, he’s been up for 27-1/2 straight hours.

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