The Madison Common Council voted to begin negotiations with a developer over plans to redevelop Judge Doyle Square.
Ald. Chris Schmidt said the vote means the city must negotiate with JDS Development about the hotel and the council can still decide to reject the project.
The council asked for negotiations to be complete by Aug. 15.
The voice vote took place at 2:10 a.m. on Wednesday. An effort to delay the vote for a week was voted down.
The Judge Doyle Square Committee has unanimously recommended the council chose the proposal during a meeting several weeks ago.
The company proposing the development is made up of the Hammes Company of Madison and Majestic Realty out of Los Angeles.
The plan includes a municipal building makeover and a hotel near the Monona Terrace.
The committee also approved a set of nine guidelines for the project involving the number of rooms, parking and fitting in with the look of the Monona Terrace.
Those concerned about the project cite how long the construction would take and the amount of money it would take to build.
The project will cost at least $160 million and will use TIF funds.