The Cap Times

With two phases down, Union Corners looks ahead to final developments

By Abigail Becker, The Cap Times

The second phase of the $78 million development known as Union Corners unfolded Wednesday with the grand opening of a $19 million, 90-unit mixed-income apartment complex.

Interview by Eden Checkol, WISC-TV News 3

Named after the battery company that formerly occupied the site, Carbon at Union Corners includes two four-story buildings joined by a courtyard and path that leads to East Washington Avenue. There is 18,000-square-feet of ground floor retail space and 92 underground parking spaces at the complex on Winnebago Street.

Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, said the development is a strong example of creating a neighborhood and not just “plopping in some buildings” into a vacant space.

“There is now a community that will evolve here and be part of a bigger neighborhood, and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Rummel said.

Of the 90 units, 76 are affordable and targeted to families making between 30 and 60 percent of Dane County’s median income, or $85,200 for a household of four. Only 10 units are still available, Gorman’s Wisconsin Market President Ted Matkom said.

The project used $8.5 million of Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority low income tax credits and the city contributed the land within a Tax Incremental Financing district in addition to $1 million of gap financing. Dane County put forward $554,000 of gap financing.

Madison’s Department of Planning, Community & Economic Development director Natalie Erdman said the city’s vision for the site was to see a complete neighborhood with access to transportation, child care and housing.

Central to that vision was affordable housing and creating a place that would draw a diverse group of people together, Erdman said.

“Carbon is really a good example of that mixed income with some quality commercial space that create those vital experiences for people living here, and a way for us to relate to one another in a good quality of housing,” Erdman said.

In 2014, the city set aside $4.5 million per year to create an estimated 250 units of affordable housing per year. Gorman & Co, the developer of Union Corners, was included in the first round of funding, Erdman said.

“This is the beginning of the fruits of those labors and that commitment,” Erdman said.

The first phase of the Union Corners development was the $20 million, two-story UW Health Clinic on the corner of East Washington Avenue and Sixth Street that opened at the end of last year.

Following Carbon, the developer is proposing to build a 59-unit apartment complex in partnership with Lutheran Social Services. The complex would be geared toward extended families, such as grandparents, who are raising other family members’ children.

A five-story, mixed-use apartment complex called Nexus is the fourth phase of the project. The final development in the Union Corners plan will have about 100 apartments, 18,000-square-feet of retail and over 200 enclosed parking spaces.

Gorman & Co CEO Gary Gorman said the goal of the Union Corners site is to create a place where people can live, work and recreate within walking distance.

“We’ve created an urban village here,” Gorman said. “It’s not done, but it will be and I’m very proud of it.”

Grocery store, affordable housing in the works for east Madison’s Union Corners

BRYNA GODAR | The Capital Times | bgodar@madison.com

After months of planning and repeated delays, pieces of Gorman & Co.’s Union Corners project are starting to fall into place.

The project combines a UW Health Clinic, affordable housing and retail on the vacant two-block site along East Washington Avenue, Milwaukee Street and Winnebago Street.

The city approved the medical clinic in early October and the City Council allocated tentative funding for the residential piece in early December. The developer has mentioned potential grocery tenants in neighborhood meetings on the project.

Although the final residential plans have yet to be approved, the developer has proposed two mixed-use buildings, consisting primarily of affordable housing.

In December, the City Council approved the allocation of up to $3 million to assist Union Corners along with two other affordable housing projects: Maple Grove Commons and Tennyson Ridge. All three will be applying for tax credits from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority and pre-determined city assistance can aid in that process. The final dollar amounts will be worked out in January.

The Union Corners project will include a total of 90 units, 14 going at market rate and 76 marked as affordable with a range of one to three bedrooms. The majority of the affordable units will target those making 60 percent or less of the area median income, with some targeting those making 20 percent or less.

There will be underground parking and retail on the ground floor of each building, which front Winnebago Street.

Gorman & Co. has also said it is working to bring a grocery store to the development, possibly Fresh Thyme Farmers Market.

The overall project and its components have drawn mixed reactions and desires from the neighbors, including conversations about what “affordable” means and what the buildings will look like.

A second neighborhood meeting on the project will take place Thursday, Jan. 8, 5 p.m. at the Goodman Community Center. The Gorman & Co. team will discuss updates on the proposed building design and the WHEDA application for tax credits.

The construction dates for the project have repeatedly been pushed back and groundbreaking on the residential component is now slated for January 2016 if financing goes through.

Union Corners construction could begin this summer

By MIKE  IVEY | The Capital Times | mivey@madison.com, January 18, 2014

Developers are close to breaking ground at Union Corners on Madison’s east side, the high-profile but  long vacant parcel at East Washington Avenue and Milwaukee Street.

Gorman & Co. has filed an application with the city for Phase I of the  project, a $20 million, 2-story, 60,000 square foot UW Health clinic.

The general development plan (GDP) will be presented before the city Urban Design Commission at its Wednesday meeting.

Developers are hoping to begin construction on the clinic building in late  summer, with UW Health looking to move in during the summer of 2015, says Gorman & Co. spokesman  Joe Schwenker.

The clinic will occupy the corner of East Washington Avenue and Milwaukee  Street.

More development is slated for the rest of the 11-acre site and plans show a  mix of residential and commercial buildings along both sides of a rerouted  Winnebago Street.

But Schwenker cautions that plans are fluid and could likely change.

“It’s all going to depend on market conditions,” he says.

Also at Wednesday’s UDC meeting, developers will present plans for a 12-story, 109-unit apartment building at 617 N. Segoe Road  near Hilldale Shopping Center.

That project from Madison landlord Jim Stopple has generated strong neighborhood opposition, both from residents in the  adjacent Weston condominiums and those living on the quiet streets behind the  mall.

Over the past decade, Union Corners went from one of the most promising  development projects in Madison history to one of the city’s worst eyesores.

In 2003, before the housing bust sent the national and local economies into a  tailspin, developer Todd McGrath had plans to turn the former Rayovac battery  plant and a vacant grocery store site into a mix of high-density housing,  shopping and open space. The $70 million project was widely hailed as a  game-changer, something that would finally spur development up and down the  blighted East Washington Avenue corridor.

When the recession hit, however, all those dreams were drowned in a river of debt, and McGrath ended up losing the  property in a voluntary foreclosure. The city of Madison eventually stepped in,  buying the land from M&I Bank for $3.57 million, with the expectation it  could eventually find a private developer to take over the site once the economy  improved.

The city solicited proposals for the site and eventually selected Gorman  after other developers dropped out. In July 2012, the city sold the property to  Gorman for $1 in lieu of making a TIF loan to the developer.

The city hopes to recoup its estimated $6 million in land and infrastructure  costs through new property taxes generated by the development.