Tag Archives: Madison

Madison Catholic Diocese significantly alters plan to convert headquarters into housing

June 08, 2014 5:30 am  •  By Doug Erickson | Wisconsin State Journal

Officials with the Madison Catholic Diocese are moving forward with plans to redevelop the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center, their historic headquarters, though the plan has changed significantly from the one announced last fall.

The new concept calls for a mixed-use development, not solely rental housing. The diocese will keep all of its offices at the site — not vacate the premises as originally planned — co-existing with 54 apartments.

In another big change, diocesan officials said they now assume the building will remain tax-exempt. Last fall, they said the redeveloped building would pay property taxes.

The site is on Madison’s Far West Side at 702 S. High Point Road.

The apartments and other housing amenities are now expected to take up about two-thirds of the building instead of the whole thing. The housing will be marketed more pointedly to empty-nesters and those 50 and older, including those looking for housing with religious amenities.

The old plan would have stripped the building of its religious uses — the chapel was to have become a lounge, for instance. Now the chapel will remain and continue to host diocesan functions such as the weekday noon Mass.

As with the previous proposal, Gorman & Company Inc., a real estate development company with deep connections to the diocese, will execute the plan under a long-term lease agreement with the diocese, said Monsignor James Bartylla, the diocese’s second in command. The company will secure financing, design the housing, oversee construction and manage the property, he said.

Ted Matkom, who oversees Gorman’s Wisconsin projects, said he anticipates construction starting in November, with a total project cost of about $16 million. Occupancy likely will begin in late 2015, he said.

Matkom said the changes in the proposal came about after his company got more into the details of the process.

Initially, the plan called for about 90 apartments. But some areas of the building did not lend themselves to an easy conversion into living space, upping construction costs. “The inefficiencies would have put the rents at the very top of the Madison market,” he said.

Also, the company kept butting up against a desire — their own and that of others — to retain what makes the building so treasured to so many: its Catholic identity. “We decided, why not capitalize on the iconic history of the building while also helping the diocese by allowing it to stay here?” Matkom said.

There’s a financial benefit to the project by taking that approach, he said. Even though the diocese will remain the owner of the property, it will pay office rent to a new limited-liability company that will be formed to redevelop the building, thus anchoring the project’s economic stability, he said. The diocese will be a partner in the new company.

“To complete the loop, the great part is that the diocese’s rent will be reimbursed from the cash flow generated by the apartments,” Matkom said.

The financial arrangement is complicated, Bartylla said, but another way to look at it is that the diocese will be leasing the property to Gorman while also being a tenant of the project and benefiting from the income it generates.

As for the property remaining tax-exempt, Matkom said his company assumes the project will qualify under existing state statutes covering “affordable benevolent apartments.” The apartments will rent for market rates.

In addition to Bishop Robert Morlino and his staff remaining at the O’Connor Center, all affiliated Catholic organizations currently there also will stay put, including Catholic Charities, the Catholic Herald newspaper and Relevant Radio, a Catholic station.

Those and other diocesan uses take up only about 36 percent of the 232,000-square-foot building. Increasing the diocese’s cash flow by finding a way to use underutilized areas was the initial impetus for the redevelopment project.

As with the previous proposal, outside organizations that use the site as a conference center and meeting space still will need to find another home, Bartylla said.

Diocesan staff members were told Friday morning they will be staying at the O’Connor Center. “There were a lot of happy faces at that meeting,” said Brent King, diocesan spokesman.

The O’Connor Center was first known as Holy Name Seminary, opening to students in 1964. The seminary closed in 1995.

On Friday, Monsignor Mike Burke, pastor of St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Madison and the last rector to serve the seminary, said he was thrilled that religious functions would remain at the center.

“This has always been sacred space — there’s a sense of peace people get when they walk in these doors,” he said of the center. “Preserving the tradition of this building is going to create tremendous positive energy in the diocese.”

City presses Gorman on Union Corners building design

By Mike Ivey, Capital Times, May 11, 2014

Union Corners, one of the most anticipated redevelopments in recent memory, will get a review by the Madison Plan Commission Monday night.

Developer Gorman & Co. recently made some significant changes to its plan for the long-vacant site, including moving the UW Health clinic off of the corner of East Washington Avenue and Milwaukee Street.

Rather than anchoring the high-profile corner, the $20 million, two-story clinic building is now shown at the corner of East Wash and Sixth Street. Instead of the clinic, the new plan shows a pair of four- to six-story mixed-use buildings fronting East Wash and Milwaukee Street.

Those changes were applauded by nearby residents and the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara neighborhood group.

But city planners in a new report are emphasizing that any new buildings must be well-designed and attractive.

“Perhaps the most important factor to be considered during the review …. will be the architectural treatment of the individual buildings across the site,” writes city planner Tim Parks.

Moreover, since the project will serve as something of a gateway into the downtown, new buildings must contain “significant visual interest” from both East Wash and Milwaukee Street, Parks adds.

That means hiding garage doors, trash enclosures and loading docks while requiring building facades be “well articulated, porous and highly activated.”

The updated plan from Gorman does place most of the surface parking behind the buildings to make it less visible from the street; reduces the height of two apartment buildings at the back of the site and includes two pedestrian walkways through the middle of the 11.5-acre site.

Gorman & Co. says it now hopes to break ground in the fall if all the approvals are in place by that point.

Also Monday, the commission will consider final plans from developer Jim Stopple for a 12-story 115-unit apartment at 617 N. Segoe Road behind the Hilldale Shopping Center.

That project has faced strong opposition from owners in the luxury Weston Place condos next door, who say the apartment contains too many units and is out of scale with the rest of the neighborhood.

City planning staff is recommending approval of the project in a report but urges the commission to carefully weigh comments during the public hearing Monday.

“Although the proposed project is large, and large on its site, the Planning Division believes it may be possible to find the applicable standards are met,” writes city planner Kevin Firchow.

The Plan Commission hearing begins at 6 p.m. in Room 201 of the City County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Fill in the two big blanks on Madison’s East Side

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial, May 11, 2014

Finally, it appears, two conspicuously barren sites on Madison’s East Side will be transformed into thriving developments.

Let’s get these needed projects — Union Corners and Royster Corners — to the finish line at City Hall. They’ll be great for their neighborhoods, with amenities such as grocery stores and a library. And they’ll help grow the tax base, which pays for city services.

Union Corners is a major mixed-use project at the busy intersection of East Washington Avenue and Milwaukee Street. It’s been frustratingly dormant for about a decade. But revised plans and strong neighborhood support have opened the way to key city approvals this month.

Gorman & Co.’s $83 million proposal for the 11.4-acre site would include a health clinic and buildings of four to six stories with a grocery store and restaurant, housing and a pedestrian path.

Previous attempts to revitalize this prominent site stalled and failed, leaving a glaring blotch of blight in the East Washington streetscape to Downtown.

Ald. Marsha Rummel, who represents the area, said last week Gorman’s latest revision has “all the right pieces” with “overwhelmingly positive” response at a neighborhood meeting. That’s the most encouraging news for the area in years.

The other open urban space that badly needs filling is Royster Corners, the 28-acre site of a former fertilizer plant at the corner of Cottage Grove and Dempsey roads. The site has been flattened and cleaned, with the city hoping to build roads this summer.

Apartments that are part of the project just got tax credits that should allow construction to begin this fall. Other pieces of the larger plan include a new Pinney branch library, single-family homes, commercial space and possibly a Willy Street Co-op grocery.

The city hasn’t signed off on everything yet. But Ald. David Ahrens, who represents the area, is “terrifically” supportive and doesn’t see any difficult obstacles ahead.

“Once it’s done,” Ahrens said Wednesday, “it will be just a huge center. We really don’t have many opportunities like this.”

He’s right. These two projects have been talked about for too long. It’s time to break ground.

Gorman & Co. revising Union Corners plans after cool reception from staff, neighborhood

By:  Dean Mosiman, Wisconsin State Journal, February 13, 2014

After a recent proposal got a cool reception, Gorman & Co. is revising  plans for the long-dormant  Union Corners project on the corner of East Washington Avenue and Milwaukee  Street.

Meanwhile, Gebhardt Development has sought brief delays on city approvals to  make final tweaks to a $70 million to $85 million redevelopment in the 800 block  of East Washington Avenue.

Gorman’s latest proposal envisions less surface parking and more underground  spaces, taller commercial buildings, and shorter apartment buildings near  existing single-family homes in the neighborhood.

Gary Gorman declined to reveal full details until sharing them with a  neighborhood steering committee on Saturday.

“I’m confident we’ll please enough people to gain support,” he said. The  neighborhood review will be followed by submission of a formal plan, to go  before the Urban Design Commission in May.

Gorman was chosen in late 2012 to develop the 11.4-acre Union Corners site,  acquired by the city two years earlier. On Oct. 30, 2013, the city and Gorman  signed an agreement under which the city would sell the site to Gorman for $1,  repaying the city’s $6 million investment through higher property taxes  generated by the estimated $83.9 million project.

But informal plans  Gorman offered in January called for a less-dense development, with more parking  lots, less public space, and four-story apartment buildings near existing  single-family homes.

The project changed for several reasons, Gorman said. Initial concepts were  based on $14 million in tax increment financing support, not the current  agreement that provides land but no cash, he said. Also, negotiations with UW  Health, which wants a two-story, 60,000-square-foot clinic at the corner of East  Washington Avenue and Milwaukee Street, resulted in the elimination of a parking  structure, to be replaced with more underground and surface parking, he said.  Talks for landing a perhaps 25,000-square-foot grocery meant even more parking  space.

Gorman said he’s unable to make the health clinic building taller. But he has  removed some surface parking in favor of a 240-space underground garage,  increased the potential height of commercial buildings from four to six stories,  and cut the height of the apartment buildings to two stories.

Ald. Marsha Rummel, 6th District, called the proposed changes “the first step  in a conversation” and said she was optimistic “we can figure this out.”

Gebhardt, despite the latest delay, is closer to approvals.

A first phase includes a 55,000-square-foot Skogen’s Festival Foods grocery  store, 30,000 square feet of retail/office space, 215 apartments and a  four-story parking garage with 500 spaces, Otto Gebhardt said. A second piece  has 60,000 to 100,000 square feet of retail/office space, 26 owner-occupied  units, 20 townhouses and 200 more parking stalls, he said. Gebhardt is seeking a  $7 million TIF loan.

“If you get a great project, the wait and the late start is worth it,” said  Ald. Ledell Zellers, 2nd District.

Gebhardt hopes to begin phase one in April, completing that piece in summer  2015.

City panel wants Gorman and UW Health to redo Union Corners plan

By Mike Ivey, The Capital Times, January 24, 2014

It’s back to the drawing board at Union Corners.

The city Urban Design Commission on Wednesday told Gorman & Co. to take  another stab at a general development plan (GDP) for the 11-acre site at  Milwaukee Street and East Washington Avenue.

The problem is that the new plans presented to the city are vastly different than  plans shown when Gorman was selected by the city to develop the long-vacant  parcel.

“UDC said the proposed GDP is not approvable as presented and suggested that  Gorman get UW Health to the table,” said Ald. Marsha Rummel, who represents the  east-side district.

The initial proposal from Gorman — which played up amenities like a new  library, small scale shopping and public spaces — was generally supported by the  neighborhood during a series of meetings two years ago.

But new plans featuring a $20 million, two-story UW Health  clinic on the corner of East Wash and Milwaukee include more surface parking  and less greenspace. The new plans also show two large apartment buildings  adjacent to the existing neighborhood where original plans had the larger  buildings fronting the busier East Washington.

One issue the UDC wants to see addressed is how the clinic would relate to  the rest of the development and whether it should face the street or not. That  was an issue with another UW Health clinic built at the former Bancroft Dairy  site on South Park Street.

“Union Corners is a pretty important site that has already gone through a lot  of planning so we need to make sure we do it right,” said Melissa Huggins, a  member of the citizen panel which reviews real estate developments.

Developer Todd McGrath in 2003 had proposed a major project at Union Corners  but those plans evaporated amid the housing bust.

The city eventually purchased the property out of foreclosure in 2010 and  sold it to Gorman for $1 in lieu of any tax incremental financing assistance.  Developers hope to begin construction on the clinic building in late summer,  with UW Health looking to move in during the summer of 2015.

At $20 million, the initial phase of development would deliver some $400,000  in annual property tax revenues.

Gorman has cautioned the plans could change with market conditions,  especially if the demand for owner-occupied condominiums or townhomes picks up.  Development would take place in phases over several years.

Gorman spokesman Joe Schwenker says his firm will revise its proposal and  share it with the neighborhood and Ald. Rummel before going back to the UDC in  March. The developers are also going to communicate the desire of UDC members to  speak directly with UW Health officials over the layout of the clinic.

John Steines of the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara Neighborhood Association  has been involved in planning for the site since McGrath was involved. He says  the neighborhood isn’t against development but wants it to reflect the values of  the community.

A particular sore spot for some east-siders is removal of the “woonerf,” a Dutch term for a street where pedestrians and  cyclists have legal priority over motorists. That feature was shown in the  initial plans but left out of the new edition.

“We believe a positive outcome can result through the enlightened engagement  of those who care about the importance of careful planning and design,” he said. “But the new plan is significantly retrograde in quality.”

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Union Corners site plan changes get cool neighborhood reception

By Mike Ivey, The Capital Times, January 22, 2014

New revised plans for the long-vacant Union Corners site at East Washington Avenue and  Milwaukee Street are getting an early thumbs down from some east-side  residents.

Issues being raised include the amount of surface parking for the UW Health  clinic that will anchor the project, the size of the apartment buildings shown  in the drawings and the lack of any significant green space.

“My basic concern is why are the plans we are seeing now so dramatically  different than what was first presented?” says Ken Fitzsimmons, who lives  directly behind the site on Farwell Street.

The plans from Gorman & Co., scheduled for an  informational presentation before the city Urban Design Commission Wednesday,  show some changes from those first presented in 2012 when Gorman was selected as the developer for the 11-acre  site.

New plans feature a pair of four-story apartment buildings at the rear of the  site where it abuts the neighborhood. Initial plans showed the development  stepping back in scale, with the biggest buildings along East Washington Avenue  and smaller buildings toward the back.

“I realize it’s still early in the process, but this is a big deal to us and  we want to know what is going on,” says Fitzsimmons, education director at  Madison Music Foundry and a member of the popular local band, The Kissers.

The city purchased the property out of foreclosure in 2010 and is selling it  to Gorman for $1 in lieu of any tax incremental financing assistance. Developers  are hoping to begin construction on a $20 million, 2-story, 60,000 square foot  clinic building in late summer, with UW Health looking to move in during the  summer of 2015.

The developers have cautioned the plans could change with market conditions,  especially if the demand for owner-occupied condominiums or townhomes picks up.  Development would take place in phases over several years.

But comments posted on the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara (SASY) Facebook page are  showing some major discontent. The initial proposal from Gorman — which  played up amenities like a new library, small scale shopping and public spaces — was generally supported by the neighborhood during a series of earlier  meetings.

Dan Melton writes that he supported the 2012 plans but is worried the  developers are shifting direction in order to maximize return at the expense of  existing residents.

“If Gorman & Co. went back, crunched the numbers, decided they couldn’t  make a profit with the earlier 2012 site plan, then they should have leveled  with us, presented the neighbors with options — and heard which of the  potential site plan changes had support,” writes Melton.

District 6 Ald. Marsha Rummel has been monitoring the  neighborhood comments and has passed them along to the developers. She is urging  residents to attend the UDC meeting, which is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in Room  LL110 of the Madison Municipal Building.

“I really appreciate the comments and you can be sure I will represent the  collective disappointment that has been expressed here,” she writes in a SASY  Facebook post.

Gorman spokesman Joe Schwenker declined to offer any additional comments  pending the discuss at the UDC meeting.

Drew Hanson, who lives a block from the site on Milwaukee Street, says his  family uses the site now as an ice skating rink and would prefer to see it  developed in a way that enhances the Schenk-Atwood neighborhood. He takes issue  with claims the property is one of the bigger eyesores in the city.

“The plan is supposed to include interesting community space, a commons,  community gardens, pedestrian friendliness and more for the neighborhood to get  excited about,” he writes in an email to the city. “Gorman’s UW clinic renderings that  appeared this week in the CapTimes are none of these things.”

Over the past decade, Union Corners went from one of the most promising  development projects in Madison history to one of its more visible  disappointments.

In 2003 before the housing bust, developer Todd McGrath had plans to turn the  former Rayovac battery plant and a vacant grocery store site into a mix of  housing, retail and open space. The $70 million project was widely hailed as a  game changer that would help spur development along the blighted East Washington  Avenue corridor.

When the recession hit, however, McGrath ended up losing the property in a voluntary  foreclosure. The city of Madison bought the land from M&I Bank for $3.57  million in 2010, 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 chose Gorman after other  developers dropped out. In July 2013, the city sold the property to Gorman for  $1 instead of making a TIF loan to the developer.

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

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.


Madison Catholic Diocese plans to turn headquarters into rental housing

By Doug Erickson, Wisconsin State Journal, September 26, 2013

The Madison Catholic Diocese has reached a tentative agreement with a  developer to vacate its headquarters at the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral  Center on the city’s Far West Side and turn the former seminary into rental  housing.

Under the plan, the diocese will lease the building for 60 years to developer  Gary Gorman, whose company will renovate the 232,000-square-foot structure and  create 100 to 150 apartments. The diocese will retain ownership of the  property.

Bishop Robert Morlino announced the plan to about 120 priests gathered  Wednesday in Wisconsin Dells for an annual meeting.

The decision is not because of budget problems, said Monsignor James  Bartylla, the diocese’s second in command. Rather, the aging O’Connor Center,  702 S. High  Point Road, is underused and would require more than $15 million in capital  improvements over the next 30 years to keep it as the diocese’s headquarters, he  said.

This is the best way to preserve the legacy of a landmark building while  being good stewards of church finances, Bartylla said.

“It strikes a balance between the economics of the situation and preserving  the history of the diocese,” he said.

Diocesan officials expect to save an estimated $500,000 annually by getting  out from under the costs of operating the center. In addition, the lease  agreement will provide revenue to fund church activities, diocesan spokesman  Brent King said. The lease amount has not been set but likely will vary over the  course of the agreement, he said.

If the plan goes through, it will be a for-profit venture by Gorman &  Company, and the property would return to the tax rolls, King said. “This is  only just and reasonable,” he said.

Only about 36 percent of the building’s square footage is being used right  now, Bartylla said.

The diocese will need to find a new home for its administrative offices,  including the bishop’s office. Catholic Charities also is based at the center.  Together, about 100 people work at the site, King said.

A new site has not yet been found for the offices. It likely will be leased  space, not existing diocesan property, because no parish would have the amount  of square footage needed, Bartylla said.

Additionally, the O’Connor Center is home to four retired priests and five  active priests. New quarters will be found for them, King said.

The chapel, located in the center of the building, will be preserved, but its  use in the future has not been determined, Bartylla said.

At the end of the 60 years, the building would revert to diocesan control. A  firmer development agreement is expected by Nov. 15.

The lease agreement would cover only about 10 acres of the 72-acre Bishop  O’Connor Center site, Bartylla said. No decisions have been made on the future  of the other acres, he said.

Realistically, renovation likely would not begin until next summer or fall,  said Gary Gorman, chief executive officer. The company anticipates spending $30  million to $40 million to renovate the building, he said.

Gorman said the rental housing would be for the general public, not targeted  to Catholics. He envisions it appealing to “working people on the West Side who  don’t want to live in a generic white box — people who want to live somewhere  interesting.”

The company will renovate the building as a “certified historic  rehabilitation,” in accordance with historic preservation guidelines prescribed  by the National Park Service, Gorman said.

Gorman has a long history of working with the diocese as a developer.  Additionally, he has served as a board member and board president of Catholic  Charities. He attends Holy Mother of Consolation Parish in Oregon.

The Bishop O’Connor Center was first known as Holy Name Seminary, opening to  students in 1964. The seminary closed in 1995.

Both parties will jointly approve a name for the redeveloped site.

“The time is right to consider how best to use that place for the ministry of  the church,” said the Rev. Paul Arinze, pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption  Parish in Beloit. “When the bishop was talking to us, he reminded us that we are  like fathers at home — you have a wife and children and must constantly make  decisions based on what’s best for the future of the family.”

Sure, there is sentimental value to the building, said Monsignor Daniel  Ganshert, pastor of two parishes in Watertown and among the first students at  Holy Name Seminary. But priests recognize that change is part of life and part  of the ministry, he said.

“I’m just happy the building is still going to be there,” he said. “It’s  going to stand there like it has for the last 50 years and remind us and  encourage us to look to the future of the diocese and its people.”

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