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Proposed garage change

This is what the above-ground portion of a parking garage in the Judge Doyle Square project could look like, pending city approval. This is one of three options a city commission will consider on Wednesday. 

After the Madison City Council reluctantly agreed last month to an additional $11 million in public financing for the massive Downtown Judge Doyle Square development, a city commission next week will consider scaling back part of the project’s parking and could see requests later for changes to other parts of the projects.

Current plans call for the two-level, above-ground portion of the garage to be enclosed, ventilated and covered with the same glass facade as the three towers being built by Beitler Real Estate Services to include a hotel, apartments and additional retail space.

On Wednesday, the Urban Design Commission is scheduled to look at three alternatives for scaling back the above-ground garage project to a more traditional, open-air, masonry-clad structure on three of its four sides.

Natalie Erdman, director of the city Department of Planning and Community and Economic Development, said that under the proposal, the Pinckney Street side of the structure — consisting of one level of retail and two levels above of parking — would still be sheathed in the same kind of glass as proposed for the towers.

But the Doty and Wilson street sides of the structure, as well as the fourth side backing up to the Madison Municipal Building, would not. There would be no change in the number of spaces in the structure.

“Though the massing and layout of the parking garage remain similar to the original approvals, the three proposed options represent an open garage plan with varying opening and material patterns,” city planner Janine Glaeser writes in a memo to the UDC.

Erdman said the original design for the above-ground parking and retail would cost “significantly more than what had previously been budgeted,” and scaling back its design would save about $2.15 million.

In addition, Erdman and Doyle Square project manager George Austin indicated changes to the look of the towers are also likely, with Beitler possibly coming to the city with proposals later this year, Austin said.

The reason, again, is cost.

“They may need to scale back the amount of glass they’re using,” Austin said.

The City Council on May 15 agreed to take over development of first-floor retail space, the two floors of private parking and a structural slab — collectively known as “the podium” — after Beitler pointed to rising constructions costs as among the reasons it would not be able to finance them.

The city has already begun construction of a 560-stall underground public parking garage on the block that holds the Madison Municipal Building. It would replace the aging Government East garage. Atop the podium, Beitler would build nine floors of apartments.

Of the $11 million in extra funding, $4.4 million is slated to come from Parking Utility reserves and $6.6 million from unspent funds from the $46 million originally budgeted for the underground garage. The city’s commitment to the $186 million project is now $50.4 million.

All told, the project is slated to bring apartments, retail and office space, a 252-room hotel, bicycle center and more than 1,000 additional parking spots to blocks that hold the Madison Municipal Building and Government East parking ramp.

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Chris Rickert is the urban affairs reporter and SOS columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal.