Investors help developer resurrect Edgewater project

No taxpayer money will be used to finance redevelopment
Investors help developer resurrect Edgewater project

Developer Robert Dunn is moving ahead with a major renovation of the historic Edgewater Hotel without any financial assistance from the city of Madison.

A small group of investors, including philanthropists W. Jerome Frautschi and Pleasant Rowland, made an investment to help Dunn overcome the $16 million financing shortfall, according to a Wisconsin State Journal report.

Dunn had hoped the city of Madison would cover $16 million of the $98 million redevelopment project with public assistance.

The redevelopment project appeared dead when the Madison Common Council cut the project’s public financial support from $16 million in the 2011 budget to $3.3 million this year, and Dunn said he couldn’t move forward due to that financing gap.

Dunn released a statement Sunday praising the investors who helped revive the project.

“We are grateful for the support and confidence of the private, local investors who bridged the financial gap and allowed this important project to proceed. Without them, the Edgewater project would have died and the community would have lost the range of economic and cultural benefits from what will be an extraordinary, new facility,” Dunn said in a statement.

Dunn said he intends to follow plans approved by the city two years ago.

“After more than four years of hard work by a broad coalition from across the community, the redevelopment of Madison’s storied Edgewater Hotel will become a reality. We expect to break ground this fall and begin welcoming local and out-of-town guests to the new Edgewater in the late spring of 2014,” Dunn said in the statement.

The controversial project faced opposition from some residents, who argued that the plan for the Edgewater, particularly the proposed nine-story tower, was a poor fit for the historic Mansion Hill neighborhood and violated building ordinances in the area.

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Dunn said he will restore the Art Moderne style of the original hotel, cut the size of a 1970s addition, set a public terrace atop it overlooking Lake Mendota, create a staircase to the lake and erect a nine-story tower. If he makes no major changes, Dunn would only need to submit proof of financing and a construction contract to get a building permit, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

“From the unique public spaces overlooking Lake Mendota to the first-rate restaurants, amenities and accommodations that won’t be found anywhere else, the new Edgewater will be a community asset that all of us can use and be proud of. We look forward to the Edgewater continuing to be the place where Madison’s most lasting memories are made,” Dunn said in the statement.

The new Edgewater will have 189 rooms, up to 10 luxury condos, banquet, meeting and retail space, restaurants, a pier and docks and underground parking, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Stay tuned to WISC-TV and Channel 3000 for continuing coverage.