Tag Archives: Union Corners

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.

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 revises plans for Union Corners project

By Dean Mosiman, Wisconsin State Journal, April 30, 2014

In response to concerns, Gorman & Co. has made major changes and won neighborhood support for the long-stalled Union Corners project on the East Side, opening the way to key city approvals next month.

Gorman, chosen to develop the city-owned, 11.4-acre site in late 2012, relocated a proposed two-story UW Health clinic from the gateway corner of East Washington Avenue and Milwaukee Street to East Washington and Sixth Street, with the gateway now anchored by a pair of four- to six-story mixed-use buildings that may include a Fresh Thyme grocery store.

The neighborhood wanted the taller, more substantial buildings at the gateway of the $83 million, multiphase redevelopment.

Also, revised plans add underground parking, cut the height of two apartment buildings near existing single-family homes, and create a pedestrian walkway through the center of the property.

“I’m really encouraged now,” Gary Gorman said. “It’s been a long haul. Frankly, it’s been a little frustrating at times. But it’s a project that’s going to be here for a long time.”

After much effort, “I think it’s got all the right pieces,” said Ald. Marsha Rummel, 2nd District, adding that the new plans got an “overwhelmingly positive” response at a neighborhood meeting last Thursday.

The city has been awaiting a project for a decade. McGrath Associates, the former property owner, proposed a major mixed-use project in 2004 that won broad support from city officials and residents but stalled in June 2007.

The city acquired the site in late 2010and chose Gorman to develop it two years later. In October 2013, the city and Gorman signed a deal under which the city would sell the property for $1 to Gorman, who would repay the city’s $6 million investment in land and public improvements through higher property taxes generated by the project.

In January, Gorman offered poorly received plans for a less-dense development with more parking lots, less public space, the two-story UW Health clinic at the gateway corner and four-story apartment buildings near the single-family homes.

But Gorman continued to work with the mayor’s office, city staff and the neighborhood to produce the latest plans, with the key breakthrough coming when UW Health agreed to relocate the clinic from the gateway corner. Gorman also credited Mayor Paul Soglin for “injecting urgency in the process.”

The project is broken into four phases, the first the two-story, 60,000-square-foot clinic. The second piece features a four- to six-story mixed-use building at the gateway corner with a grocery store and a restaurant down Milwaukee Street and a four- to six-story mixed-use building down East Washington Avenue. A town square behind those buildings could be used for farmers’ markets or other neighborhood events, Gorman said.

Additional phases include a transit hub, two mixed-use buildings with first-floor retail and housing along the pedestrian path, and four apartment buildings. Overall, two-thirds of parking would be underground.Gorman said he’s unsure if city financial support would be needed for underground parking for the grocery.

The plans will be considered by the Urban Design Commission on May 5, the Plan Commission on May 12 and the City Council on May 20.

Union Corners plan gets total makeover

By Mike Ivey, Capital Times, April 29, 2014

Gorman & Co. has made significant changes to its development plan for the long-vacant Union Corners 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 on East Wash and Milwaukee Street.

Also, the updated plan moves 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 a pedestrian walkway through the middle of the 11.5-acre site.

Gorman & Co. project leader Joe Schwenker says the changes came after meetings with city planners, the Mayor’s office and the neighborhood.

“Various concerns were addressed and these modifications resulted in an improved plan,” says Schwenker.

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

The new plans are scheduled to go before the Plan Commission on May 12.

The earlier plans from Gorman released in January created a firestorm of reaction from nearby residents and the Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara neighborhood group, which had been closely involved in the redevelopment process.

The city Urban Design Commission then ordered Gorman to come up with some different plans.

The new plans were presented at a neighborhood meeting Thursday night and got a mostly positive response, according to a report in Isthmus.

“The GDP (general development plan) has improved immensely and the neighborhood gave it a warm reception last week,” says District 6 Ald. Marsha Rummel.

In 2003, 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 seen as a catalyst to spur development along the East Washington Avenue corridor.

When the recession hit, however, McGrath lost the property in a voluntary foreclosure. The city bought the land from M&I Bank for $3.57 million in 2010, anticipating that it could find a private developer to take over the site when the economy turned around.

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.

With concerns addressed, neighbors applaud proposed final development plan for Union Corners

By Jenny Peek, The Isthmus, 04/25/2014

The plans for Union Corners have gone through several iterations, and neighbors have at times been harshly critical. But the final general development plan for the 11.5-acre project at the corner of East Washington Avenue and Milwaukee Street seems to have hit the sweet spot.

Residents who packed a neighborhood meeting Thursday night at Bashford United Methodist Church applauded more than once the efforts of Gorman & Company, the developers of the project, Plunkett Raysich Architects and UW Hospital and Clinics to take the neighborhood’s concerns into account.

“I’m really pleased with what happened tonight,” Gary Gorman, CEO of Gorman & Company, said after the meeting. “People that have been not very shy about being critical were really supportive.”

Gorman attributed the positive response of neighbors to the flexibility of UW Hospital and Clinics and to Plunkett Raysich’s responsiveness to the community’s concerns.

Ald. Marsha Rummel was happy to see the drastic change in design from the plans presented in January. “The January submission to the Urban Design Commission — it was terrifying. It was worse than what they had initially submitted that won them the whole shebang, so the neighborhoods got to work, and we met with [Gorman] and UW Health, and they really responded.”

The major concern from the January design revolved around the placement of the UW Hospital Clinic on the corner of East Washington and Milwaukee Street. The neighborhood hoped the corner would serve instead as the gateway into the mixed-use development.

Project consultant and manager Joe Schwenker said the developers went back to the drawing board after the January meeting. “We met with the steering committee, who met with some of the neighbors; we met with city staff; we met with Mayor [Paul] Soglin twice; and here we are today with a new plan that hopefully respects and responds to all of your concerns,” Schwenker told the crowd.

Schwenker noted it was important to the developer to create a sense of place for the project and to treat the neighborhood as a client, along with its other clients — the city and UW Health.

The new design relocates the UW clinic to the corner of East Washington and Sixth Street, a new controlled intersection, leaving the main corner of the property for commercial and retail surrounding a town square area that could be used for festivals or farmers’ markets. The corner space will also include an organic grocery store, Fresh Thyme.

The combined effort of four neighborhoods — Worthington Park, Eken Park, Emerson East and Schenk-Atwood — helped shape the outcome of the project. And the Union Corners steering committee helped ensure that their voices were heard.

“[The steering committee] represents the neighborhood’s concerns to Gorman,” former Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway, a member of the steering committee, said after the meeting, “and helps them understand what they were hearing from the neighborhood. And ultimately, I think, get them to a place where the neighborhood is much more supportive of where it was initially.”

Gorman was pleased with the support from the neighborhood and proud of the collaborative effort that went into the final plan.

“It’s never easy, and it’s never quick, but this is a large project; it’ll have a 100-year-impact, not just on this immediate neighborhood, but the city. So having done something that all of us are going to be proud of, that’s worth going through a little more of a process,” Gorman said after the meeting.

The final version of the general development plan will be presented to the Urban Design Committee on May 7 at 4:30 pm in the Madison Municipal Building. If approved, the next step will be to create a “Specific Implementation Plan” focusing on the design elements.

If all goes according to plan, ground will be broken on the UW Clinic this fall.

East Washington corridor: Hopeful signs of a long-awaited renaissance

MG&E Talks Business, Energy-Related News, March 2014

The past 12 months were a busy time for East Washington  Avenue. It made headlines almost weekly throughout 2013. Developers, city leaders  and businesses are cautiously optimistic that “East Wash” is coming  back into its own.

In this first of a multi-article series, we’ll introduce you  to some of the key players who are working to help East Washington regain its  “corridor to the city” status.

The City of Madison

Aaron Olver, director of economic development for the City  of Madison, believes two city programs have been critical to corridor  development efforts:

  • The East Washington  Avenue Gateway BUILD Plan. “The city and community were engaged in a  long-term planning effort that resulted in the BUILD Plan,” Olver said.  “It thought through key issues around development, land use, zoning and  density and laid the foundation for what’s happening now. This plan helped us  to build in a smart, planned and consistent way.”
  • The Land Banking  Program. “We’ve had situations where available lots were too big for  any one developer to hold on a speculative basis,” Olver said. “For  instance, when Don Miller wanted to sell the car dealership, there were about  eight acres spread over three blocks. The city bought the lot and made it  available in smaller pieces. That’s what helped launch The Constellation.”

“This type of growth avoids some of the environmental  and social costs that happen with development on the periphery,” added  Olver. “You’re breathing new life into an area that isn’t producing as  much as it could be, plus there are the social benefits of density. This level  of compression drives connections, innovation and entrepreneurship.”
The Mullins Group

To Brad Mullins, COO of The Mullins Group, the East  Washington of his childhood was “quite the place. Anything we needed was  there—car dealers, Sears, places to buy groceries, schools, church.”

The Mullins Group’s history on East Washington goes back to  roughly 1971 when Mullins’ parents, the founders of the company, purchased  almost the entire 1400 block of East Washington. “They had the foresight  to recognize the value of the area,” Mullins said.

Today the company owns property on the 200, 1000, 1200, 1300  and 1400 blocks. “We ramped up our efforts about five years ago when the  University approached us,” Mullins said. “They wanted to create a  downtown space that would support university-affiliated technology efforts—a  place that could be an incubator for innovation.”

The result was the University Research Park’s Metro Innovation  Center, located at 1245 E. Washington (which will be profiled in a future  article). Two years ago, another innovator connected with the Mullins  Group—ShopBop, the upscale, online retailer. “They recognized the synergy  of the Avenue and wanted to be part of it,” Mullins said. “They saw  the benefits of this location—access to the bike path and mass transit,  eclectic shops and restaurants, entertainment—and believed these would attract  the employees they were looking for.”

Now housed in two facilities at 1245 and 1301 E. Washington,  ShopBop employs roughly 300 people, a 50% jump in the last two years.

“Developing property on East Washington isn’t without  its challenges—whether it’s the time it takes to rehab a building or working  through site plans with the City and the neighborhoods,” said Mullins.  “But in my experience the end result is worth it, and a growing number of  businesses and people seem to agree.”

Gebhardt Development

Otto Gebhardt, owner of Gebhardt Development, LLC, has East Washington  ties that go back to childhood. “My dad’s office was right across from  Sears and Roebuck, what’s now the bus barns.”

Gebhardt kept his eye on the corridor over the last decade. “I  was dumbfounded by the lack of development in the area and always looking for  opportunities here, he said. In 2012 he started construction on The  Constellation on the 700 block of East Washington. This 12-story, $39 million  building includes 220 apartments, over 32,500 square feet of commercial space  and a 275-stall parking garage. To date, rental has been robust. All apartments  were rented before the building opened on Aug. 1, 2013, and commercial tenants  include Star Bar, Andersen Dental, Cargo Coffee and the Madison offices of  Google.

The building was constructed with an eye to increase urban  density—for instance, the current parking structure, which is in the center of  the building, could be repurposed if the level of car ownership dropped among  building tenants—and 24/7 vibrancy. “You need the right mix of housing,  commercial and retail so there are reasons to be here any time of day,”  Gebhardt said. “You don’t want to be a ghost town at 5 p.m.”

Throughout 2013, Gebhardt has been shepherding a two-phase  building development project for the 800 block through the City of Madison  review process. At present, Phase 1 will include a mixed-use complex with  residential units, a parking garage and a 50,000-square-foot grocery store. Phase  2 will feature both rental and condominium townhouses, commercial space and  additional parking. Groundbreaking is anticipated in February/March 2014.

Key to both current and proposed development is local  businesses. “We want to create a destination area in the corridor, not  just duplicate what you could find in any strip mall,” Gebhardt said.  “The right mix gives people a reason to live and work here, to spend their  entertainment dollars here. It also helps strengthen the area so it’s resilient  over the long haul.”

Gorman & Company,  Inc.

Gary Gorman may not have grown up right on East Washington,  but his stomping grounds were in nearby Monona and he’s excited to be part of the  east side revitalization efforts. President of Gorman & Co. Inc.,  Gorman is a nationally known developer with a reputation for effectively  managing downtown revitalization projects. He recently executed a purchase  agreement with the City of Madison to develop the 11.4-acre site at East  Washington and Milwaukee Street that’s known as Union Corners. This site has  experienced a number of ups and downs over the past decade—including the  collapse of another developer’s proposal during the recession—but the project  appears to be back on track.

The site is likely to be home to a UW Health clinic; other  site elements could include apartments and retail.

“At this point we’re anticipating a five-year rollout  period,” Gorman said. “It will depend on the marketplace.”

Gorman is pleased to see the level of development happening  in the various stretches of East Washington. “Otto (Gebhardt) has been an  important factor and his efforts are encouraging others to invest,” Gorman  said. “We’re seeing more young people in the area—that’s what’s driving  the apartment market—and this has been a great catalyst for the area. Of  course, there has to be the right mix of residential and commercial development  and all the developers understand that.”

Creating a  sustainable avenue

What will it take for the Avenue to thrive over the long  haul?

“There isn’t any one thing that’s going to make these  efforts a success—it’s the combination of everything,” Mullins said.  “Right now we’re seeing the housing mass, the places of employment and the  support services that make an area a neighborhood. There’s a dentist in the Constellation  building! I think 1975 was the last time we had a dentist in this area. This  isn’t just a place for young professionals or an area that’s only geared to IT.  It has something to offer people of all ages.”

Olver agreed. “We want the downtown and East Isthmus areas to be  perceived as desirable places for a diverse variety of people to live. Recent  college grads, people with families, professionals and empty nesters should all  find what they’re looking for here. This means having a variety of housing  options and cementing amenities that support a wide range of lifestyles and  ages. Employers are thinking hard about what it takes to attract and retain  employees and for many this urban vibe is a good fit.”

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.”

Read more: http://host.madison.com/ct/topics/changing-face/union-corners/city-panel-wants-gorman-and-uw-health-to-redo-union/article_2f2fe79e-847a-11e3-9137-001a4bcf887a.html#ixzz2sIhVcslh

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.