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Home / Commercial Construction / Firm ditches suit over Madison’s $186M Judge Doyle Square project

Firm ditches suit over Madison’s $186M Judge Doyle Square project

Devin Wilson (left) and Kevin Knoll level up some shoring before a concrete pour on July 11 while working on underground parking for the Judge Doyle Square project in Madison. The developer of the project abandoned a federal lawsuit on Wednesday accusing the city of taking over the development of the project’s parking structure and retail space without propoer permission. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

Devin Wilson (left) and Kevin Knoll level up some shoring before a concrete pour on July 11 while working on underground parking for the Judge Doyle Square project in Madison. The developer of the project abandoned a federal lawsuit on Wednesday accusing the city of taking over the development of the project’s parking structure and retail space without propoer permission. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

The company behind Madison’s public-private Judge Doyle Square development abandoned a federal lawsuit on Wednesday accusing the city of “seizing” the development of the project’s parking structure and retail space without its permission.

Attorneys for Chicago-based Beitler Real Estate Services claimed in a suit filed in June that the city had violated a development agreement by cutting the company out of the construction of an above-grade parking structure and retail space. Both of those jobs are part of the larger Judge Doyle Square project, which is taking place on two city blocks southeast of the Wisconsin State Capitol.

Beitler sued Madison over the city council’s vote to spend $11 million to build first-floor retail space, two levels of parking and a structural slab called the “podium.” The city’s decision to assume the development came after Beitler had told city officials in April that, because of rising construction costs, it could not complete the private part of the 560-stall parking structure.

In its suit, Beitler argued it had exclusive rights to private sections of the $186 million Judge Doyle project and that the city had waged a “public smear campaign” against the firm.

“The city’s brazen attempt to develop the above-grade parking structure without Beitler’s consent in violation of Beitler’s clear rights under the development agreement, falls into the City’s continued pattern of excluding Beitler from the development process,” according to the suit.

But on Wednesday, the firm dropped its suit against the city without prejudice.

Madison City Attorney Michael May told the Wisconsin State Journal on Thursday that dismissing the suit allows discussions between the developer and city officials to move forward.

“With the lawsuit out of the way the city hopes to renew discussions with Beitler on how to modify the existing development agreement so that the project may proceed,” May said.

Natalie Erdman, director of Madison’s Department of Planning, Community & Economic Development, said city officials hadn’t been in contact with Beitler while the lawsuit was ongoing and haven’t spoken with them since it was dropped.

It’s still unclear, she said, how Beitler will move forward with its part of the project.

“They just dropped the suit last night and we haven’t had a chance to meet yet,” Erdman said. “The city continues to construct the below-grade parking structure.”
John Paul Beitler III, vice president of Beitler Real Estate Services, did not return a request for comment by press time on Thursday. An attorney for Beitler did not return a request for comment by press time, either

The Judge Doyle Square redevelopment calls for reworking a pair of city blocks that are home to the Madison Municipal Building and the Government East parking garage. As part of its agreement with the city, Beitler planned to develop the podium and a nine-story apartment complex above it, in addition to two towers containing apartments, retail space and a hotel on the block where the Government East garage stands.

Beitler won rights to develop the property in 2016, promising to bring a 252-room hotel, housing, retail and commercial space, as well as more than 1,000 parking spots, to the site. The Chicago-based firm Lothan Van Hook DeStefano Architecture designed the project and  Janesville-based J.P. Cullen and Sons is the general contractor.

The city has been trying to redevelop Judge Doyle Square since at least 2013. In 2015, a plan calling for Exact Sciences to undertake the development fell through after the maker of Cologuard, a cancer test, opted to build on Madison’s west side instead.

About Nate Beck, nbeck@dailyreporter.com

Nate Beck is The Daily Reporter's construction staff writer. He can be reached at (414) 225-1814 (office) or 414-388-5635 (mobile).

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