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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.