Residential Component of $60M Wis. Mixed-Use Opens

A long-vacant industrial site once occupied by Ray-O-Vac Corp. is now the site for Gorman & Co.'s new development.

Union Corners 4 and 5 Streetscape V2Madison, Wis.—Carbon at Union Corners, a mixed-use community including a 90-residence apartment community with a substantial affordable housing component, has broken ground in Madison, Wis.

Carbon is the result of a public-private partnership between the city of Madison, Dane County and the state of Wisconsin. It is the second phase and first residential phase of Gorman & Company’s $60 million multi-stage transformation of a long-vacant industrial site once occupied by Ray-O-Vac Corporation. “Union Corners is a master development that we embarked on three years ago,” Gorman & Company’s Milwaukee-based president of the Wisconsin market Ted Matkom told MHN.

“It was started through an RFP process. Ray-O-Vac abandoned the site decades ago, and the city of Madison took title to the big six-acre site and cleaned the site through remediation grants to the point where it was developable. It’s right on a main thoroughfare in Madison called East Washington Avenue, and surrounded by historic neighborhoods that are extremely stable but more moderate income.”

Six neighborhoods touch Union Corners, “and we talked with all of them,” Matkom continued. “The priorities were a place to live, work and play. After that, they identified their top desires as health care, a supermarket, and affordable housing. They really emphasized the need for a development that didn’t gentrify their neighborhood. They wanted something that blended into the neighborhood. We got them the UW Health Clinic, Fresh Thyme grocery and this Carbon development, with a large mix of housing ranging from market rate to apartments earmarked for 30 percent of AMI.”

The construction cost is estimated at $16 million. Completion is slated for June 2017.

Carbon at Union Corners features two four-story buildings linked by courtyard plaza. In addition to the 90 apartment homes, there will be 18,000 square feet of ground-floor specialty retail space and 92 underground parking spaces for residents. Eighty-five percent (or 76) of the one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments will be designated as “affordable” and targeted to families earning 30, 50 or 60 percent of Dane County’s median income, which is $82,600 for a family of four.

Four units will be market rate. Monthly rental rates depend on annual household income, and will range from $380 to $940 for a one-, $455 to $1,245 for a two- and $920 to $1,460 for a three-bedroom unit.

Apartments will feature walk-in closets, in-unit washer-dryers, large kitchens and Magic-Pak self-contained HVAC systems. Amenities include a fitness center with cardio equipment, treadmills, weights and stationary bikes.

When considering acquiring the site, Gorman & Company had to weigh its positives and negatives, Matkom said. “The plus was it is a vacant site remediated by the city of Madison, and 100 percent ready for development,” he reported. “The minus was the site was incorporated in a highly urban area touching six neighborhoods. The time we spent in community meetings was extremely long. There were a lot of stakeholders who had to be appeased to ensure the development was a fit for the community.”

One of the points of contention was surface parking. Neighborhood residents didn’t want a sea of asphalt encircling the development. “They wanted underground parking,” Matkom said. “So we had to put in all underground parking, and from a cost perspective, it was challenging to incorporate that into the project.”

A nod to the site’s history will be woven into Carbon. Bricks from the long-demolished Ray-O-Vac factory will be creatively repurposed, and the vintage French Battery stone signs will be featured in common areas of Union Corners.