Late last summer, Mayor Dave included $37 million in his capital budget for a grand new central library on West Washington, to replace the decaying building a few blocks away. He insisted that new construction rather than renovation was a better deal for the city, and he enthusiastically pushed his grand vision for the new development.
It turns out that the $37 million did not cover the actual development costs. Mayor Dave thought he could negotiate via the budget (a tactic pioneered by Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker) and force Fiore-Irgens to lower its price after the city accepted its bid (narrowly chosen over one from T. Wall Properties). The Mayor and City Attorney kept the City Council in the dark during the futile negotiations. Now, some alders feel disrespected, and the Mayor has nothing to show for it.
Now that he's given up on his library project, I suspect Mayor Dave will go all in over the $16 million in TIF for the Edgewater project. It's his last chance to prove he's an alpha male. He's already had to give up his plan for trolleys, and he's deferred to Dane County on siting a high-speed rail station at the airport rather than downtown.
Just imagine what downtown Madison could be if we all shared Mayor Dave's vision: