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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Board of Estimates rejects further Edgewater funds

Madison’s economic development director Aaron Olver said the BioLink project discussed by the Board of Estimates Monday would allow for the creation of a high-tech greenhouse in Madison. An amendment to eliminate funding for the project received mixed reactions from Board members.[/media-credit]

The Board of Estimates rejected two amendments to the Capital Budget – involving the long-contested Tax Increment Financing for the Edgewater Hotel redevelopment project – at a meeting last night.

One of the amendments proposed the city increase funding by $12.7 million for financial assistance to expand the hotel project.

Downtown Madison Inc. representative Susan Schmitz, who firmly supported the amendment, said its failure would have consequences for the future of Madison.


“This sends a very bad message to current and future investors in terms of all the time and effort that was poured into the process,” she said.

Delora Newton, speaking on behalf of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, shared similar views. She said rejecting the amendment would send a “chilling” message to new investors. She also said the redevelopment of the Edgewater Hotel may increase its property value by $40 million.

Gary Peterson, president of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Planning Association, also supported the amendment, calling the Edgewater project “visionary.” He urged aldermen to support the project for a positive branding of Madison.

Still, those who showed up to oppose the amendment said its approval would actually send a positive message to developers across the city.

“It means that city policy means something,” former city finance director Paul Reilly said.

He also said the tax payoff from the project would not justify the money spent on it.

Ald. Bridget Maniaci, District 2, supported the bill, saying simply that the “costs [of redeveloping Edgewater] are what they are.”

Ald. Anita Weier, District 18, disagreed with the project.

Weier said the city should consider what the future costs of the project could entail given what kind of money Madison has on hand at the moment.

“Don’t buy anything you can’t pay for,” she said.

Although the Board rejected the amendment, there is still a possibility that one or both of them may be passed at the next City Council meeting, according to Ald. Lauren Cnare, District 3.

The Board also discussed an amendment to eliminate funding for a proposed BioLink project. It would allow for creation of a high-tech greenhouse in Madison, according to Aaron Olver, Madison’s economic development director.

Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway, District 12, adamantly opposed the proposal. She agreed that it could create an exciting new industry but said she ultimately believed the project was not viable. She feared that there would not be leasers for the new facility.

“The consequences of moving forward with this are an incredibly specialized facility that we can’t do anything with,” she said.

Still, Cnare expressed some optimism for the plan. She was not entirely convinced of the success of the new facility, arguing that the city should at least ask for an extension to discuss the item at a later time.

“We can do something that’s not just run-of-the-mill,” she said. “We would be remiss to vote this down. [Madison] needs something like this.”

In the original article, it stated. Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway opposed the amendment to eliminate the BioLink project, when it should have read she opposed the BioLink project. The article has been edited to show this change. We regret the error. 

In the original article, it state, Ald. Bridget Maniaci was against the amendment, when it should have read she supported it. It also said Maniaci agreed with Ald. Anita Weier, who did not support the project, when it should have said the two disagreed. The article has been edited to show the change. We regret the error. 

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