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District 1

Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney

Image of Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney

Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney

Contact Information

Home Address:

1209 Dayflower Dr

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Harrington-McKinney’s Updates

Madison Common Council Refers Bietler Co. Deliberations

November 21, 2018 3:38 PM

Response to District 1 Interested Residents:

Alders have received many inquiries related to the impasse between the Madison City Council and the Bietler Co. I am sharing the response that my colleague Alder David Ahrens prepared. The Council voted to refer further discussions on the project until its January Council meeting to allow space for further communication.

Mr. name redacted.

Thank you for taking the time to share your views on the proposal to give $600,000 to Beitler Co. This is, as you note, a difficult decision because of the level of uncertainty in all available options. 

I, and perhaps some of my colleagues, would support the payment of $600,000 if we knew that it would settle all matters and then we, as partners, could move forward with this multi-phase construction project. That scenario is not one that would likely be realized and may be wishful thinking.

The record of the Beitler Co. as a whole and its dealings thus far with the City of Madison portends a long and difficult relationship marked by the threat of or actual litigation, poor communication, delays and most of all, a shifting of the cost burden of this very expensive undertaking  from private interests to the public, for a section of the city that has already been the recipient of enormous civic investment.

In regard to litigation, the record speaks for itself. To my knowledge (which is based on "hearsay") the city was sued by Beitler Co. without prior notice. Obviously, there is an argument for their action, but one would imagine/hope that at the outset of this partnership, our attorneys and principal staff would have been called to discuss the matter. A few days ago, the Alders and city staff received yet another threat of litigation without an offering of even a leaf of an olive branch that might address what has been, thus far, a rocky road.

While the reduction of the period after completion of the podium garage from two years to 18 months is likely to be beneficial to the project, it will not get underway until 2022- when the prospects of financing a project of this kind are not likely to be as favorable as it is today.

As you may know, when the Development Agreement was signed, Beitler Co. estimated the cost of the first phase of the project  (apartments and underground garage) at $32 million.  One year later, they notified the city that the actual cost would be close to $48 million. This is not the work product of an experienced builder.

But it is the strategy of an experienced realtor who knows Madison's history of providing large TIF grants to downtown developers. Although Beitler Co. said that they would not require TIF funding at the time of their application, their view may be altered in the years to come.

Thus far, the city has paid $1.5 million in "development fees" and (to my dismay) is planning on using $11 million of parking utility fees to build a three-story structure and foundation for the building above it. This was to be part of the Beitler Co. project. Now, taxpayers are asked for $600K to resolve a dispute originating with the developer's insistence that they would not/could not pay for the project as originally promised.

And then? Can you imagine a scenario in which the Govt. East ramp has been demolished and Beitler Co. alleges a "gap" of $10 million and demands that TIF dollars to fill that gap? Will we have the capacity to say "no" then or would we more likely settle for a payment of $9 million and call it a moral victory?

I will conclude by noting that the $600K is not the first payment, it is the second or third. You are probably right: if we stop now we will indeed be engaged in  costly litigation in which we may/may not prevail. But we will avoid other major costs  that have little return for the taxpayers.

Thank you again for writing to the Council.

Best regards,

David Ahrens

From: (Name redacted) 
Sent: Monday, November 19, 2018 8:44 PM
To: All Alders <>
Subject: Beitler Settlement
No one should be happy about the 600,000 payment to Beitler. But, it is the practical response to the position the City is in. I can only share the perspective of experience handling cases for decades. The 600,000 you're asked to spend will certainly be burned up in litigation with no guarantee that you will win. The modified development agreement moves the JDS project forward in a more timely manner. The frustration expressed with Beitler is understandable. But provoking a lawsuit on these issues isn't the right response, since it won't make them go away. This isn't a situation where you have an ideal choice. A 600,000 cost for certainty is very reasonable compared to the magnitude of the unknowns.

All Alders


Subject: Novembers is Alzheimer's Awareness Month & Family Caregiver Month

There are an estimated 110,000 people living with Alzheimer's disease in Wisconsin, a number expected to increase eighteen percent by the year 2025. Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death in Wisconsin. Unlike other leading causes of death which are slowly decreasing, such as heart disease, the rate of Alzheimer's disease is drastically increasing each year. 

There are also an estimated 194,000 people in Wisconsin who are caregivers to a family member with Alzheimer's disease. Many of these caregivers work full-time jobs and also balance caring for their children and aging parent(s).  In addition, many elderly spouses who looked forward to their golden years are instead focused on providing care for their ill spouse. In Wisconsin, family caregivers provide an estimated 220,000,000 hours of unpaid care each year. In recognition of these caregivers, November is also designated National Family Caregivers Month. 

Thanks, Barbara!

Claire Bitner, Communications Coordinator

Alzheimer's & Dementia Alliance of Wisconsin

3330 University Ave. Suite 300

Madison, WI  53705

608.232.3400 or 888.308.6251



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The Madison Common Council and boards, commissions, and committees meet regularly to discuss and take action on City business.  The City Weekly Meeting Schedule is a quick way to access an agenda, location, and time of a meeting. You can subscribe to receive Meeting Schedule and Updates emails. Check the schedule periodically during the week since meetings can be added or canceled or contact the City's Clerk office at (608) 266-4601 to confirm a meeting.
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