Awards

Developer of the Year: Gorman goes beyond basic development

Gorman & Co. Inc. isn’t the only developer working with cities and governement agencies on housing projects.

But it is one of the best, according to those who have worked with the company.

Antonio Riley, executive director of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, said that when he took the job, he didn’t know about Gorman & Co. But as the agency faced more difficult projects, it was Gorman that WHEDA kept turning to.

The Majestic Loft Apartments, a roughly $17 million project, was one of the most successful joint endeavors between WHEDA and Gorman, Riley said.

In addition to providing more than 130 affordable apartments in downtown Milwaukee, the project also heralded the start of WHEDA’s Emerging Business Development Program. Minority-owned businesses performed nearly 25 percent of the work on the project, Riley said.

Without Gorman’s dedication to the concept, taht never would have happened.

“[Gary Gorman] said, ‘Antonio, that’s where we want to be,'” Riley said.

The company and WHEDA established protégé programs, where a majority subcontracting firm links with a minority firm.

“Gary Gorman and his company have been really on the front lines with us on this overall mission,” Riley said. “Not just producing housing but economic development of these smaller businesses. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.”

In Madison, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz said similarly good things about Gorman’s willingness to work with the city on a project on Allied Drive.

The project, Avalon Village, is in one of the city’s pooret and most-challenged neighborhoods, Cieslewicz said. Gorman came in and put a 100-unit apartment complex at the entrance to the neighborhood on a lot where a vacant warehouse grocery store had stood for eyars. The project recently reached completion, and people are still moving in.

“It improves the firmst impression 100 percent,” Cieslewicz said. “It provided good quality, affordable housing on the site. They have at least 70 percent of the development for people of below-average incomes.”

In addition to providing the obvious benefits of the project, Cieslewics said, Gorman was willing to go beyond the basic requirements.

“They actually did a pretty good job of working with the neighborhood and providing things that weren’t directly related to the development but increased the neighborhood’s perception of it,” he said. “They donated computers to the neighborhood center, held a job fair and did other things that really helped them become not just a developer but part of the neighborhood.”

Working on these kinds of projects, where the end result is more than just a new apartment buidling or subdivision but a real benefit to a neighborhood, is an area of expertise for Gorman.

“Gorman was at a meeting somplace in the state, talking about recidivism,” Riley siad. “Gary called me up. He said there’s got to be something we can do.

“If we can somehow look at some of those areas and provide housing needs to better house the community and create linkages for employment to work on these job sites, maybe we can start changing things. That is the kind of philosophy that comes from that man.

“I think we’re a better state because Gorman & Co. is around.”