State releases list of potential Hill Farms developers

4 companies still in running
State releases list of potential Hill Farms developers

The Wisconsin Department of Administration has released a list of potential developers for the Hill Farms property on Madison’s near-west side.

The state issued a request for proposals [PDF] for a $196 million redevelopment of the site on Oct. 10, and proposals were due back to the state Nov. 7.

Six companies originally bid on the project, which would include designing a 600,000 square-foot state office building, purchasing remaining land and the existing Hill Farms office building, and purchasing the Badger Road State Office Building that would be emptied as part of office moves.

The six developers bidding on the project originally included the Hammes Company, McCaffery Interests, Mortenson, The Opus Group, Smith Gilbane and T. Wall Enterprises. Four of those have made it through the state’s first round of evaluations and now McCaffery, Mortenson, Smith Gilbane and T. Wall remain in the running. The state hopes to choose a developer for the project by the end of the year and present the option to the Building Commission for approval.

The bidding process has been criticized by Democrats for concern over fast-tracking of the proposal near an election. Sen. Fred Risser told the Wisconsin State Journal that he found the timing of the request for proposals “suspicious.”

A review of campaign donations by the lead developers on a project show a $10,000 donation to Gov. Scott Walker on Oct. 31 by Jon D. Hammes, the managing partner of the Hammes Company, based in Brookfield. Hammes is no longer in the running to work on the project. Developer Terrence Wall donated $9,975 to the governor on Oct. 24 and remains one of four finalists on the project.

A Department of Administration representative said the criteria for evaluating the project are the team, its relevant experience and past performance, financial capabilities, the concept and design and the implementation strategy, budget and schedule. He said campaign donations do not influence the process.