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Archived Union Corners Planning Area Meeting Notes:

June 28, 2004 Meeting Notes

  • The Union Corners Planning Studio met June 28,2004 to talk about traffic issues [only].  Thirty people attended - including District 6 Alder Judy Olson, City Planning Director Mark Olinger, and developer Joe Krupp. Krupp was there to speak in favor of restoring two-way traffic to Winnebago from the river to First Street.

  • At least a half dozen of the neighbors had not attended a Studio before.  They were drawn to this meeting by specific traffic issues - particularly the two-way Winnebago proposal [Buell]; and effects of a proposed Sixth Street-East Washington Avenue signalized intersection [East Dayton, Seventh and Mifflin].  Also Ken Genskow, 2138 Winnebago, was there for discussion of Winnebago Street traffic calming proposals. 

  • Dan McCormick, from City Traffic Engineering, & McGrath consultant John Lichtenheld, from Schreiber-Anderson, led discussion.

  • Lichtenheld pointed to parts of the big East Washington reconstruction job - like the First Street-East Washington Avenue intersection, and the Highway 30-East Washington Avenue full interchange - and said they're part of a City policy to keep as much through traffic as possible on major arteries like East Washington, Highway 30 and Pennsylvania - and off of neighborhood streets.

  • Emerson East Neighborhood Association member Beth Cannestra made a case for considering a roundabout at East Washington Avenue-North Street-Milwaukee Street, rather than a conventional signalized intersection.

  • Marquette Neighborhood Association member Will Warlick said he's concerned Winnebago might become more of a through route - and funnel increased through traffic onto Williamson Street - rather than trying to keep as much through traffic as possible off of East Johnson-Gorham and Williamson-Winnebago - and funnel it onto East Washington instead.

  • Warlick suggested:  1. Narrow the width of Winnebago, from Union Corners to Schenk's Corners; 2. Restrict some turn movements at the proposed Sixth Street-Winnebago intersection; 3. Build an island in the middle of the Fourth Street-Winnebago intersection; and 4. Change the traffic signals at Schenk's Corners to increase travel times on Winnebago and make it less attractive as a through route.

  • Dan McCormick then described the various traffic calming actions the City plans to take in and around the Emerson East neighborhood: Sixth Street, East Johnson Street, Third Street.  He described the process the City typically goes through to get neighborhood consent to go ahead with traffic calming, like building islands or speed humps.

  • Re: Winnebago McCormick said, "We would like to narrow the street, as well."  Also, he said, the City would like to build islands in the middle of Winnebago like on Baldwin between East Washington and East Johnson.  The islands cost $2000-$5000 apiece, he said.  McCormick said the City is concerned it might not get a big enough percent response from Winnebago property owners to give work the okay.  Narrowing the width of the street could be fairly expensive for the property owners along Winnebago, he said, because reconstruction would be assessed by frontage foot of your lot.

  • McCormick explained there's a difference between traffic calming on a local street like Waubesa vs. traffic calming, like pedestrian refuge islands, built as part of the arterial enhancement program, as on Milwaukee Street. 

  • The proposed 'straightening' of the LaFollette Avenue-Winnebago intersection was discussed.  It was agreed McGrath could propose the elimination of Division Street, from LaFollette to Winnebago, to increase the amount of green space in front of the French Battery Building without necessarily 'straightening' the LaFollette-Winnebago intersection; the two do not necessarily need to be tied together.

  • Lichtenheld noted the proposed pedestrian-bike crossing off the RR tracks at Jackson is tied to the proposed vacating of Division Street because McGrath will likely argue the two are a 'package'.  You are eliminating one grade crossing [Division] and adding a new one [Jackson]; so, taken together, the two would be a wash.

  • Lichtenheld argued strongly against designing the proposed Sixth Street-East Washington Avenue intersection to prevent certain turning movements.

  • Near the end of the meeting Alder Judy Olson said she came to the meeting expecting one of the issues the Studio would discuss this night would be restoring two-way traffic on Winnebago from the river to First.

  • Schenk's Corners business owners - and particularly, now, Joe Krupp who is trying to interest store owners to locate in his new mixed-use Kennedy Place development along Atwood Avenue - feel very strongly that two-way traffic needs to be restored - to help create a PM drive time flow of traffic past their businesses - so the PM traffic does not just keep going on Eastwood Drive and bypass Schenk's Corners businesses.

  •  There's money in the budget, Olson said, to do a "trial" of the two-way idea but neighbors who live on Merry and Buell fear two-way traffic on their portion of Winnebago would make it difficult to 'get out' onto Winnebago and might create an intimidating situation. "It's clear to me," Olson said, "this is part of a larger discussion involving Union Corners, and the future of Winnebago, but it actually predates Union Corners." McCormick said he agreed, that neighbors on Merry and Buell are "concerned about what's happening up here, at Union Corners," because it might make the situation they fear even worse - that Union Corners might be "shooting a lot more traffic, along Winnebago, right in front of where they live."

  • Todd McGrath reported he and his team have had some initial meetings with City staff about submitting his GDP [General Development Plan].  The GDP, he said, will be "very conceptual." McGrath said the GDP would include the vacating [elimination] of the Winnebago Street moving merge into East Washington, and the vacating of Division Street from LaFollette to Winnebago. 

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Union Corners Studio Meeting
June 2, 2004

  • The agenda for this wrap-up studio meeting included a review of the large public meeting of May 26 and a look at next steps.  Rebecca Krantz (RK) asked for general impressions.  Todd McGrath said he felt the meeting was positive.  Glad to see other stakeholders whom he hadn't seen before show up.  RK said maybe 200 people attended the meeting, up to 160 at any one time in the room.  Lance McGrath (LM) thought the format was great.  Mark Olinger (MO) was pleased with the turnout, thought more AV work would have been an improvement.  Lack of a sound system was a problem.  Larry thought the meeting worked well.  Perspective views of project were helpful.  RK would have liked more time.  Most important thing, from her perspective, RK said, was help and a committed group. 
  • RK asked for feedback on responses from the meeting, including surprises.  Questions on the following topics were discussed:
  • Height and density:  Some noticed a concern over height and density, while others thought there was less concern about this than expected.  A comment coming from the large public meeting was that the buildings in this development should not exceed the height of East High School.  That would limit the buildings to six stories or less.  Todd seemed to think that was a reasonable limit.  Doug noted that land across the railroad tracks is higher, so somewhat taller buildings on the development site would have little impact.  MO thought access to light by most adjoining neighborhoods would not be an issue.  Trudy pointed out that getting affordable units might require compromise on points like height and density.  Greater density spreads the cost of land among more units, bringing down the development cost per unit. 
  • Design:  Several people noted that the buildings pictured in the birds eye perspectives of the project made it look like an office park.  Todd pointed out that these perspectives were massing studies.  They are preliminary drawings to show the overall sizes of the buildings in relation to the neighborhood.  Todd also pointed out that four or five architects would be chosen to design different buildings in the development in order to provide some architectural diversity.  Todd asked if others thought some of the new buildings should reflect the style of the French Battery Building (brick exterior, industrial look).  Several studio members agreed that one or two of the new buildings should be in this style.  Barb Irvin suggested that the buildings in this style face East Washington Avenue.  Doug wished that the designs of buildings evoked the neighborhood.
  • Noise:  Several people noted comments about potential noise problems, including noise from the railroad, traffic on East Washington Avenue, and airplanes.  Todd responded that a lot could be done in the construction details to shield interiors from outside noise.  He has experience with this in a Basset Street development.  There was a discussion on the possible end to the railroad crossing whistle ban.  According to MO, new rules from the Federal Railroad Administration will probably require the whistles to be reinstated.  A studio member pointed out that people have lived with the whistles a long time; the problem is that the railroad has made them louder now. 
  • Family mix: Two people commented that the project does not seem to appeal to families because of the lack of open space and elevator style living.  Todd pointed out that elevator buildings are intergenerational and do not preclude family living.  MO pointed out that there are schools in the neighborhood and that serving the family market seems logical.  Not only are adequately sized units and yards important to families, but also layout of rooms is important.  RK noted anecdotal evidence of a shortage of large, affordable housing units (i.e., four to six bedrooms).  Todd said he might undertake a market study to look at this. 
  • Main Street:  Was there a "Main Street" (shopping street) in the development?  Todd said that "Main Street" in the plans (an extension of Winnebago) would have ground floor retail on both sides as well as diagonal parking. 
  • Parking:  Todd pointed out that a lot of people looking at the plans and perspectives would not know that parking would be provided underground for many of the buildings.  There would be adequate parking, though parking ratios would be slightly less than in conventional developments. 
  • "Private Streets:" There was some confusion about this.  Todd pointed out that it was not the intention to create a gated community or to limit public access to the streets in the development.  He would propose public ownership of the streets if possible.  MO pointed out that private ownership was proposed as a possible way to get around State DOT street design standards that would probably not allow a street as narrow as the lane proposed along the south edge of the site.  There are examples of other developments around the country, which include private streets so that they can be built according to the more pedestrian-friendly standards of "traditional neighborhood design."  MO also pointed out that privately-owned streets would not necessarily preclude public access, and he cited an example of a development on the west side of Madison whose privately owned street (Craig Avenue) looks and functions like a public street.  "Private streets," as described in this development, does not mean gated community. 
  • Public space and residential streetscape: Doug didn't see porches or balconies in the drawings, which provide ways for people inside buildings to interact with the street.  Todd pointed out that the drawings served more as massing models (so porches and balconies were not shown).  The buildings could have some element of separate entries, even though they are multi-story.  MO talked about the need for public spaces.  Though common elements within buildings (or the courtyard between Buildings D and E) would be useful, common space for the community is essential. Not providing such a space is the worst mistake of urban planning.  Well-designed, residential streetscapes can serve this role.  MO mentioned the Bedford Court development (500 block of West Main Street) as a good example of a building, which adds to the streetscape.  The development is not just a block of apartments; it creates private places at street level that encourage interaction with the public street. 
  • "Common elements" as public spaces: Todd described unconventional "common elements" (public or shared spaces) that could allow some buildings to work as neighborhoods.  Examples included a rooftop garden and an enclosed space on a rooftop with views of the Capitol.  Todd was also considering a community center in Building G (southeast corner of the site) with housing above.  Could this serve as public space?  MO thought its role was different: It would be a busy place and generate traffic from outside the neighborhood.  It is not the same public space as a good streetscape.  What he is looking for are spaces that encourage interaction of neighbors - i.e. from front yards or porches.
  • Other public spaces: Todd mentioned dog-walking grounds as great places of neighbor interaction.  Others mentioned possible public spaces: A pocket park like Elmside Park in the Atwood Neighborhood; a town square; a linear park or walkway such as along some bike paths.  Todd was considering a pedestrian mall-like street on Florence but was worried about impact on circulation.  Maybe Sullivan would do better for that.  He was also considering wider terraces and limited access on these streets. 
  • Grocery store: On the timing of the grocery store construction, it was pointed out by Todd and Doug that this is linked to the East Washington Avenue reconstruction project schedule.  The segment at Milwaukee Street will be rebuilt in 2007, so a grocery store being built on the site before then is unlikely. 
  • RK reminded everyone of the upcoming traffic meeting on June 28 at 6:00pm at Holy Cross Lutheran Church on Milwaukee Street.  She is working with Judy Olson on this.  Todd said he wanted to invite John Lichtenheld, who would have some new traffic counts. 
  • RK reviewed the next steps.  Todd will meet with the City regarding the General Development Plan.  MO: Once this is submitted, the project goes on autopilot (bad time to change the design).  Maybe the studio should meet again just prior to submission.  Barb Irvin suggested that the studio meet just prior to the project being taken to the neighborhood associations for their review. 
  • RK asked about possible site tours.  Todd thought it would be better to wait until more people were interested before scheduling a new site tour. 
  • Todd thought the studio process had a good result.  Thanks all around.

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May 26, 2004
Union Corners Public Meeting Comments and Questions

(The number in the first column denotes the card number for administrative purposes only.)

General Comments

5-3

The process is excellent - a model.

7-1

Overall the plan looks much more spiffy than I had anticipated.

42

I hope the retail/small business spaces will not stay vacant for long - the remodeled East Madison Shopping Center on East Washington Avenue had several retail spaces that finally just now filled up.

44

Too many contentious points were presented as "set in stone".

Response: 

Building Density and Height

38-1

Buildings seem a little tall.?

9

PLEASE nothing exceeding four stories!  NO six-story "towers"! We are losing sunlight, air, and sky.

39

We (undecipherable word) urban Dwellers moved to Madison for its "Big Small Town" character.  We do not want to lose sky, sunlight and air circulation to high buildings! (Which eventually create concrete canyons).  

41

Remain height conscious about buildings.  Like the variety.  Susan Agee  

43-4

I hope to see mix of commercial and residential three-story buildings.

40-1

I like the density mix.  The width of East Washington Avenue supports taller buildings.

33-2

Density and heights of buildings seem OK to me - sounds like it'll be real "town center" for surrounding neighborhood existing.  People spoke against five-story tall buildings but I think that can be done without the massiveness of the United Way building that is out of scale with Atwood Avenue not because of its height but because of its massiveness and humongous parking lot. 
Be sensitive to good design principles (scale and mass etc.) sounds like you are..

Response:  Comments from the large public meeting was that buildings in this development should not exceed the height of East High School.  A community member noted that ground level across the railroad tracks is naturally higher, so somewhat taller buildings on the development site would have little impact.  The placement of the buildings and the path of the sun should make access to light by most adjoining neighborhoods not an issue.  Another community member pointed out that getting affordable units may require compromise on points like height and density as greater density spreads the cost of land among more units, bringing down the development cost per unit thus making for more affordable housing.

Different Architects

34-1  

I really like the idea of using several different architects for the buildings so we don't end up with some homogenous looking block.

2-1  

 Multiple architects should design buildings.  This will guarantee architectural variety.

16  

How many architect firms are working on this project?  I'm doubtful you will see significant diversity of buildings unless there are multiple firms involved.

Response:  The developer agrees that multiple architects will be chosen to design different buildings in order to provide diversity.  Point taken that these architects should represent different architectural firms.

Drawings - Appearance of Buildings

1

I think that many people at the meeting had the initial impression that the development would contain significant office space, because many of the building renderings presented appear like transplants from suburban office parks.  Particularly troubling is the thrice-repeated "gateway" rotunda/turret.  This project is going to be ultimately judged by its look as well as feel.  This is an opportunity for some great displays of architectural innovation.  I'd hate to see research park copied and pasted to this corner.  And does the irony escape everyone, putting all the rotundas on union "corners".  Respect the landscape. 

24

The drawings show the apartments and condominium building as separate buildings.  Would really like to see both owner and rental in each residential building - integrated.

37

The sketch by the architect titled "Florence Street" depicts exactly what I hope the buildings don't look like - it looks like all that stuff out in Middleton west of the Beltline - too much metal, glass, stucco, pointy things sticking out.  Please scrap and start over.   That doesn't look like anything in our neighborhood.  It looks like the Jetsons crossed with Greenway Cross.  (Draws mad face)

19-

Too futuristic - Jetsons looking

Response:  The drawings you saw were only preliminary massing studies to show overall general sizes of the buildings in relationship to the neighborhood and each other.  Exterior façade should be ignored at this point.

Design

21-3

DON'T SKIMP ON ARCHITECTURE!!!!  I would prefer to see building similar to those on/along major corridors on the North Side of Chicago (Clark, Lincoln, Belmont, etc.) - mostly deriving designs from early 20th century commercial (matches neighborhood context); have some new, European inspired designs.  Avoid similar designs to West Washington Avenue condominiums.

30-3

Strangely it is possible to make sidewalks too wide.  Look at State Street width.  These look too wide.  State Street is narrow yet it accommodates outdoor cafes.

29  

Would like to see the entire French Battery building preserved, not just the three-story portion.

Response:  The overall architectural theme of the project has not been determined.  The goal is to use multiple architects - who are talented designers - to design buildings that compliment each other and the surrounding neighborhood.  The two-story section of the French Battery building needs to come down to provide site access and improve surface water drainage.

Community Input into Design

40-4

Please incorporate local artists in (maybe a juried process) to design certain community amenities like benches, light fixtures, special windows, entryways, and courtyard elements to help give it a sense of place.

40-2

Allow an element of community design to be done by the residents who eventually take up the space so they can make some of the shared public space their own.

Response:  The developer has been open to community input though out the neighborhood planning process and comprehensive streetscape improvements will be part of the overall plan.

Transportation and Traffic

31-4

Winnebago, from Sixth eastward should be bounded - on both sides by dense commercial uses of varying sizes.  That means continuous, not chopped up as is shown.

43-2

I hope to see better, safer traffic patterns.

2-5

Narrowing Winnebago to slow traffic, prevent cut-through, keep local.

14-2

In favor of closing Division at Lafollette.

14-1  

Concern over traffic cutting through down Division Street to site.  Hawthorne Park . high traffic for children.

23-6

No drive-through between building H & F

23-4

No four lanes off Milwaukee onto East Washington Avenue

7-3

I am also worried about the traffic congestion associated with the project in general and being able to turn onto Milwaukee Street from my home on Corry Street.  A cleaner intersection at LaFollette and Winnebago would also improve this situation.

30-5

All streets should have very tight turning radii (15' +/-)

31-6

The massive Milwaukee Street expansion will be hugely detrimental to the "street life" of this project.  It will wall off the project from across Milwaukee Street and East Washington Avenue.

23-1  

No through traffic on Sixth Street.  (Like the idea of traffic diverters at East Washington Avenue).

31-2

North Sixth Street must not allow through traffic.  This can be done while providing access to the development thusly.  (Draws diagram on the card.)

43-4  

Close Division Street across RR and adjust the angle of Winnebago at RR at least to make it bike safe.

23-3

Support bike access from LaFollette

2-4

Define "Main Street" within development.

Response:  Site access is very important to the long-term success of this project.  The existing difficult access is one of the main reasons why the former Kohl's store did not thrive at this location.  The developer will continue to work with the surrounding neighborhoods and City staff with regards to traffic access and street design.

Environment and Green Space

40-5  

I appreciated the scope of storm water ideas intended to slow flow off the site.

40-3

I'd like to see cistern style or rain barrels added to the mix.

2-3  

Too little green space for all those people.  Use roofs to fulfill green space for building residents.

3

Too little green space for so many residents.  Especially if Atwood community Center is located here.

23-7

More green space - less pavement.

30-1  

ALL of green space in front of French Battery must be saved.  The "lane" chops it up, making it useless.

43-4  

I appreciate green space on streets of development, much underground parking, and centrally located surface parking.

Response:  The Developer is planning many environmentally friendly features - including the possibility of green roofs, rain gardens, and other Green Building technologies.

Parking

7-2

I am concerned that the high density of dwellings will not have adequate parking, so cars will spill over into the neighborhood and/or there will not be accessible parking for public areas.

23-5

No mandatory parking for property buyers.

31-5  

All surface parking in the business district should be diagonal.  In residential it should be parallel only - no head in parking (too suburban!)

43-4

Concerned there may not be enough parking proposed for shops.

Response:  The Developer is planning for enclosed underground parking for most buildings.  There will be adequate parking, though based on previous experience with similar projects, parking ratios will probably be slightly less than in conventional developments.

Community Space

43-4

Informal play space should be coupled with traffic calming and street paint to foster street hockey, kickball, frisbee, etc. to further reinforce the street as community space.

2-2  

Road parallel to the rail tracks should be "kid friendly" like a quiet neighborhood street where kids play ball.

5-2

Love the use of public space - very usable.

30-4

Where is the informal play space?  It should be coupled with traffic calming and street paint to foster street hockey, kickball, frisbee, etc. to further reinforce the street as community space.

34-3  

Really would love to see the community center there!  Please help make that happen.  Thanks!

Response:  The Developer is planning for playground space within the project but has not determined specific locations.  If the Atwood Community Center were to locate within the project they would include playground space as part of their facility. 

Private Streets

26

NO PRIVATELY MANAGED ROADS!!  Full access including the "feeling" that carriage lane is public is essential for full integration of this development into the community.

31-1

NO streets should be private.

23-2

No private streets in the development.

Response:  Maintained municipal property is owned by the City and the City is responsible to keep it plowed and fill the potholes and so on.  Privately owned property would be owned by the developer and the developer would be responsible to maintain the surface whether it is a street or a parking lot.  Property that is privately owned will still be fully accessible to the public and in fact ownership will appear seamless to the community.  There are other places in the city where this is the case.  In some places at this site the developer was interested in special paving materials to assist in storm water runoff management. It may be in the best interest of the community to have these areas maintained privately by persons skilled in the required maintenance.  Private ownership is also a way to get around State DOT street design standards to create streets built according to the more pedestrian-friendly standards of "traditional neighborhood design." 

Artists Lofts

5-1

Artists' lofts are a great idea - something Madison really lacks. 

6

Artists' studios require north light, not south.  Perhaps you should ask area artists for their input regarding studio needs.

Response:  The Developer agrees that artists' lofts are a great idea and welcomes input on their design.

Grocery Store

25

We need the grocery store FIRST before anything else!

28  

I LOVE the two-story grocery store with cart escalators!  We need a real grocery store!

35-2  

Yes - we need a grocery store!!!  Willy Street Coop is great but kind of expensive - we need regular cheap food and products too.

36

Grocery Store Built First!!

43-1

I expect a development with services for the immediate neighbors, like groceries, hardware, restaurants, house wares, garden, and professional offices.

Response:  Timing of the grocery store construction is linked to the East Washington Avenue reconstruction project schedule.  The segment at Milwaukee Street will be rebuilt in 2007, so unfortunately a grocery store being built on the site before then is unlikely.

Housing

8

Have good insulation in the apartments.  Sirens during the night are a problem.  We live two blocks off East Washington Avenue and we can hear them.  Convince me to live in one of the apartments - noise problem.  Jackie Straavaldsen

19-2  

Carriage house condominiums are an obscure architectural buffer from stark contrast with neighborhood.

4

WAIT!  The carriage-house condominiums are going to be adjacent to the railroad tracks - who'd want to buy one of those?  Why not swap this row of condominiums with the bike/pedestrian "lane"?  (Use the lane as a noise buffer between the condos and the RR.)

34-2  

Hmmm - sure are a lot of condominiums - would really like to see some true affordability - range of incomes - no "luxury" units.

Response: A lot can be done in the construction details to shield interiors from outside noise, including noise from the railroad, traffic on East Washington Avenue, and airplanes.  The developer has experience with this in previous development.  New rules from the Federal Railroad Administration will probably require train whistles to be reinstated but area residents point out that people have lived with the whistles a long time. 

Questions

12-3

Has the design team talked to or had any feedback from the railroad or rail commissioner?

A:  Yes, and will continue to do so.

10

Currently there is a fence that runs along the southern boundary (rail corridor) the length of the area.  Will there be any type of fence/barrier in the new development?  Mary Huigin(??)

A:  Yes, there will likely be some fencing or landscape buffers along the railroad corridor.

11

Is the cost of site remediation included in the cost of demolition?

A:  No, the cost quoted at the meeting does not include site remediation.  Remediation costs are the exclusive responsibility of Rayovac.

12-2

What is Rayovac's responsibility to the City/project?  Is there a time line?

A:  Rayovac had the vision to solicit redevelopment bids for their site as opposed to mothballing the site or selling to another industrial user.  Their responsibilities are to remediate the site and to obtain a VPLE (Voluntary Party Liability Exemption) completion certificate from the WDNR for the property.  They are working closely with their local consultants to complete this work within the developer's timeframe.  Demolition and subsequent remediation should begin during the Fall of 2004.

12-1

What exactly is maintained municipal property and what is privately owned?

A:  Maintained municipal property is owned by the City and the City is responsible to keep it plowed and fill the potholes and so on.  Privately owned property would be owned by the developer and the developer would be responsible to have it plowed and to maintain the surface.  If any property is privately owned it will still be fully accessible by and in fact ownership will appear seamless to the community.  There are other places in the city where this is the case.  In some places at this site the developer was interested in special paving materials.  It may be in the best interest of the community to have these areas maintained privately by persons skilled in the required maintenance.

15

Has the retail business community approached this project?  That is, is there any interest, any excitement by retail to locate here?

A:  Yes, there is substantial interest and excitement - many local businesses have approached the developer.

17

If buses and snowplows will have a difficult time maneuvering through the complex, how will delivery truck, fire trucks, ambulances, or police vehicles affect the traffic flow?  Will streets be blocked for long periods of time?  What about people trying to get out of the complex in their cars for their jobs?  Narrow streets are not a good idea!!

A:  Not all streets in the project are considered narrow.  All street designs will be adequate for fire and emergency vehicle access.   Narrow streets provide for a more residential feel and also act as a traffic-calming device.

18

Has a conceptual plan been formulated for how to logistically proceed with building after demolition?

A:  Yes, the project will be "built-out" in phases over a four-six year period.

21-2

How many residents (range)?

A:  400-500 new residents.

20

What about Red Letter News?

A:  Red Letter News is outside the scope of this project.

21-1

What ratio (in square feet) are the ranges for commercial vs. residential?

A:  Anticipate approximately 100,000 square feet of commercial space and 400,000-500,000 square feet of residential space.

22

Wisconsin winters!  Any need for skywalks between buildings?  Any desire for them?

A:  No.

27-3

Have you considered an in-vessel composting system (such as an Earth tub) to manage food waste at this site? 

A:  Yes.

27-2

Have you brought in a nonprofit that works with poverty issues to look at how the development will meet the needs of people in poverty?  Examples: Case management in rent units and/or non profits who hold leases of rental units and sublet them as subsidized transitional housing units [in addition to the IZ(?)]

A:  The Developer is considering partnering with non-profits to create more affordable housing units.  If the Atwood Community Center were to relocate to this site they would offer many of these services.

27-1

Anyway to include a community garden?

A:  A community garden (i.e., similar to Blair Street Gardens) has been discussed several times, and the developer will be including space for them in the site plan.

30-2

What public-private connectors (Porches, stoops, pergolas, etc.) are being incorporated to liven street life everywhere?

A:  Encouraging street life and neighborhood interaction was a goal throughout this process for both the studio and the developer.  Buildings are placed with a face to the street and connectors will be incorporated into the plans as they become more specific.

31-3

Why so many parallel streets?  Five streets to the same place?  Start with losing the "lane across the beautiful French Battery green space.

A:  The Design Studio and the developer discussed the street pattern in length and it was mutually agreed that the grid approach was necessary to create an organizing element and an "urban" feel.  

33-1

Grocery Store - What's an "urban grocery"?  Hope it doesn't mean high cost limited selection "yuppie" or junk food "convenience" store.  But something with a full range of products affordable unlike Willy Street Coop.

A:  An "Urban Grocery Store" is not your typical big box grocer.  It has smaller space and parking requirements while still offering a full-range of products.  This type of store is also more likely to have alternative designs - such as a two-levels of shopping, underground parking, etc.

32

Has anyone approached this project with any firm interest in the retail spaces?  And I am thinking of the hardware store specifically.  Has Dorn True Value or Ace Hardware expressed any interest in this?  I wouldn't mind seeing the retail spaces be ­all food related, i.e. an international "food-court" - no big chains.

A:  There has been a lot of interest - both retail and restaurant in this project.  The developer would like to see "Neighborhood" uses - grocer, hardware, small restaurants, specialty retail, etc.

38-2

Would you consider a market type format instead of a traditional grocery store?  A market could include stalls/small stores for a variety of food vendors giving full options for grocery needs, but also creating a niche market for specialized/local year round food options plus attractions for people outside neighborhood and even tourists, bringing $ into neighborhood's local hands.  Options would feel akin to Jenifer Street Market, but would provide opportunities for more local businesses (year round farmers market feel).  Existing examples can be found in Montreal (Atwater Market), Philadelphia, Seattle and others. all are very successful and always crowded (draws smiley face).

A:  The developer is open to suggestions from all sources.  Viable marketability is a key factor to be considered.  Contact Todd McGrath at McGrath Associates and work out the details with him.

45

What's happening with the huge electrical/telephone poles and wires on Winnebago?  Will the lines be buried or be an eyesore on the face of the development?

A:  This is beyond the scope of the project, however it is our understanding that the City is considering improvements to Winnebago St. which could include traffic calming, streetscape improvements and could also include under-grounding of utilities.

Meeting Evaluation Comments

I came expecting:

I appreciated:

Basic Info

Varied presenters versus one whole time speaker.

Information on development plans.  You folks did a great job of explaining.

The chance for public input.

Displays to help visualize project.

Entire planning process.

Diagrams and general description of progress on the project. 

Adherence to the agenda.

Good displays.

Comparisons

All displays and broad comments

Just about what happened.

What happened.

To see what was happening.

All the different question and answers.

Information

Good questions

A well organized meeting with lots of info

A well organized meeting with lots of info

Open - No expectations.

Very efficient.

A smaller crowd.

The level of interest and detailed plans.

I'm really impressed with how local citizens and studio members stepped up to the plate on this difficult project.

The willingness to attempt the studio process giving local residents with a wide range of experience the chance to contribute a voice at the table.  A big thank you to all studio members, Rebecca Krantz, Mark Olinger, Todd and Lance McGrath and team and all who contributed.

A great proposal.  A well-run meeting.

The time and efforts of the McGrath Team and the Studio members.

Displays of plans.  Presentation by speakers to give detail and answer questions.  Come away with an idea of what has been planned and discussed so far.

The variety and depth of the displays.  The turnout; good numbers, good variety.

I hope in the future:

Other comments:

More meetings like this.

Seems like an exciting development for our neighborhood.

More updates on next meetings.

I'd like to participate in small group meetings.  (But does not provide information on how to contact.)

I will plan on attending future scheduled meetings.

Need more specifics about transportation, housing, design, etc.

More time for questions and comments.

Much better amplification.

Visual handout of project; a take home diagram.

You are doing a great job - Keep up the terrific work.

More definition.

Very well organized.  Look forward to seeing more!

More of the same happens.

Need big turnouts to make this work.  Well advertised.

Look forward to seeing this project get done.

It is really good the hood and the developer have worked together so cheerfully - unlike MNA.

Greater Detail

Glad to see so many turn out.

A glossary of terms.  For example new market tax credits.

Good job by the moderator.  Repeated questions in a clear strong voice.

I hope this project can become the model for infill projects in Madison as a renewal of traditional neighborhoods!

Great job! (Draws smiley face)

That the economy picks up soon enough and is sustained enough to see this project through.

More details on parking and storm water management.

 

Nice job putting on presentation.

 

Dan Melton's humor!  The agenda/summary handout needs a map/graphic of some sort.  Need a microphone and small amplifier for the speakers next time.

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Meeting Notes
Union Corners Studio
May 12, 2004

  • Rebecca - Agenda: Review the criteria and factors for evaluating the design, and plan the public meeting.  The meeting will be on May 26 in the same space the studio has been meeting recently (Holy Cross Lutheran Church on Milwaukee St.)  A 3000-piece mailing is going out.  The meeting will begin with an open house from 7:00-7:30 p.m. during which attendees can view stations around the room, each describing an aspect of the project.  Studio members will stand near the stations and answer questions.  Following the open house period, there will be a presentation and a Q&A period. 

  • Will Bremer - Will there be another opportunity to get information on the project?  Rebecca -Yes.  See the website or get materials kept in the library (Hawthorne Branch).  There will also be additional public hearings.  Todd - The City review process and development process will take about one year, so there is more opportunity for input.  Rebecca - Emphasized that this is a work in progress.

  • Todd - We are planning on taking aerial photos, which could serve as a base for 3D modeling and perspectives of the entire site.

  • Review of summaries of factors/criteria for evaluating and presenting the proposed design:  (Draft texts prepared on these topics by studio members were handed out.  Studio provided suggestions for editing each.)

  • Traffic.  Todd wanted to add that he is relying on the improvements to the Milwaukee Street/East Washington Avenue intersection currently planned as part of the East Washington Avenue reconstruction project.  Suggestion that a topic on parking be added.  Todd will provide guidelines.  Should mention need for pedestrian safety improvements on Milwaukee Street.  Todd wanted to mention that development is trying to accommodate Metro.  Todd is also exploring re-aligning the Division Street/LaFollette/Winnebago intersection to make a single crossing of the RR tracks.  This would take out the radiator shop.  Other edits - mention new signal on East Washington Avenue and changing Winnebago 'on-ramp'. 

  • View.  Todd - "compatible" may be too soft; the buildings are not really like others in the neighborhood. 

  • Aesthetics.  Todd - Note that he is supporting diversity in design.  Several designers will be involved.

  • Economic Development.  Mark Olinger - Should mention positive impact of jobs in the development's commercial space.  Todd - Agreed with summary that development would have spin offs for Schenk's Corners.  Jen - What will happen to Ford's Gym and H+R Block?  Trudy - My summary addresses this.  Todd - We are in discussions with Ford's. 

  • Marketability.  Suggestion that Todd mention he will be marketing to a range of demographics segments.  Todd - Affordability and accessibility are key and already mentioned.  Vision for this development is urban living like some people enjoy near the Square, but affordable.  Jen - The text suggests you are offering smaller units, sweat equity credits, etc.  Is this true?  Todd - These may be offered, not definite.  Will the project have a secure garage?  Yes.

  • Affordability and Diversity of Housing.  (Outline of summary by Trudy) Housing will be at different levels of amenity and affordability.  Some units will not have elevators or covered parking, for example. 

  • Diverse and Desired Uses.  (Outline by Trudy)  The development will include a local grocery store and a variety of retail/commercial spaces - various sizes, and including artists' lofts.  

  • Open spaces.  Todd added that one of the goals is to make streetscapes pedestrian-friendly, i.e. the lane along the RR line.  This concept fits with 'ownership of the streetscape', which Mark Olinger will summarize.  What about other amenities that people have mentioned in the past, like a swimming pool and skate park?  Todd - Swimming pool is an intense use that would require a lot of parking.  Judy Olson - A skate park is envisioned for East Rail Corridor's Central Park.  Todd - Wanted to talk about art.  Thinking of a sculpture garden maybe near French Battery Building. 

Other topics  

  • Rebecca - Advisory Committee is leaning toward asking Mayor back for more of his ideas on vision for city.  He could add summaries on density, urban form, and infill.  Would like to get a history of the area.  Todd - Rayovac left historic photos. 

  • Cleanup.  Todd described DNR compliance process for the site. 

  • Auto Access.  Wrap this into Judy's summary of Traffic.

  • Preservation.  Focus of preserving buildings will be on French Battery Building.  Original section of building will be kept.  A later, two-story wing will be removed (to allow lane along RR line, and better storm water collection).  Don't want to commit to keeping the 1966 Kohl's supermarket building.  The factory sheds behind the French Battery Building will not be saved either (most of remaining soil cleanup will be below these, and their floors are at existing grade which gets flooded.)  Recycling much of the building materials.  Saving large trees in front of French Battery Building. 

  • Planning Public Meeting

  • Rebecca - Looking for volunteers to help with wheelchair access.  Janet and Mary volunteered.  Need a third.  Also looking for someone to lend a cell phone, which gets reception in this basement.  The number will be posted on the doors so anyone coming late and finding the doors locked can call.   

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Union Corners Planning Studio Meeting Notes
Salvation Army Community Center   
March 10, 2004

24 neighbors  (11 Studio members + 13 other neighbors not officially designated Studio members), 2 members of the McGrath team

  • EINPC facilitator Rebecca Krantz said the Studio, at this point, is "two-thirds to three-fourths of the way through, maybe" completing its job of offering neighbors' input to the McGrath team.

  • Todd McGrath said at the next Studio meeting March 24 his team would present two options - two different visions, or directions, for the site - to get Studio members' reactions which of the two they might prefer.

  • "There's a tension here.  There are some competing interests," McGrath said. "We have the issue of how much density is necessary to make the project work financially. There's the street grid.  There's the issue of open space: More open space vs. less.  Do we build up, to get the same density on a smaller footprint, creating more open space? Or do we build out, with lower buildings, covering a greater percentage of the site, creating less open space?"

  • "We like the idea of a Main Street, with angle parking," he said.  [Note: At the February 25 Studio meeting the McGrath team presented the idea of extending Winnebago Street up into the development, to the Kohl's end of the site, running exactly parallel to East Washington all the way up to the corner, with stores between East Washington and Winnebago.  This idea is part of Drawing "C" in the February 25 McGrath documents. This 'New Winnebago', he said, might act as a "Main Street," as an intermediary access road.]

  • "There are some issues we're dealing with right now," McGrath said, "having to do with the French Battery building and storm water drainage."  "We're considering the possibility of NOT having a motor vehicle entrance off the end of Farwell," he said, "and, instead, making that just a pedestrian-bicycle connection." 

  • McGrath said he continues to talk with grocers about possibly locating in the development. One possibility, he said, is a small(er) grocer locating right at the corner of East Washington and Milwaukee Street.  He has talked with Brennan's.  He has talked with the owners of Jenifer Street Market about a possible second location.  "We've also been approached by some larger mainstream stores," he said. "The question is, how flexible would they be in working with us?  For example, on things like residential above the store?"

  • McGrath said "we had a meeting with Trudy today" - Trudy Younger, owner of Trudy's, across the street from Rayovac - and discussed possible locations - including the possibility of a location with frontage on both East Washington and the proposed 'new Winnebago.'

  • McGrath was asked if the draft site plans he's prepared so far assume, roughly, four-story buildings.  Well, yes, he said, in that range, on average, "but you can talk about different ways to distribute that height: for example, from two-stories to six-stories," rather than having most of the buildings be a uniform height.

  • Lance McGrath reported that Schreiber-Anderson consultant John Lichtenheld is "pretty close to wrapping up" a preliminary traffic signal analysis that looks at whether another set of traffic lights along East Washington - at either Sullivan or Sixth - would work - or whether they would be too close to existing lights at Milwaukee and at Fourth - and, so, might cause traffic flow - back-up (queuing) - problems.  Lichtenheld has been using Sim Traffic to project what traffic flows might look like.  It's a valuable tool, Lance said; Lichtenheld may bring it to the next Studio meeting.

  • On Monday March 15 Lichtenheld meets with city traffic staff - Dan McCormick, Dave Dettmann - to go over, again, what degree of info they need from him to be 'on the same page' and be satisfied the analysis he is doing is, in fact, answering the questions they may have.

  • Then on Monday March 22 the McGrath team has another city "team" meeting - with representatives from all the various city departments, to go over where things stand.  So that by the time of the next Studio meeting March 24, the McGrath team should be able to tell the Studio where things stand - particularly with Sullivan v. Sixth.

  • City Planning Director Mark Olinger - who has been attending Studio meetings and is the lead city staff person on Union Corners - then gave Studio members a short course on Tax Incremental Financing (TIF).  TIF is a financing tool, Olinger said. It's meant to help make things happen that, perhaps, would not otherwise happen.  For TIF to be used, Olinger said, a project has to pass the "But For" test: 'But for TIF, it wouldn't happen.'  He described a new state law that changes some TIF rules. He also pointed out the difference between a 'TIF District' and a 'Redevelopment District' - two different things. Before you can establish a TIF district, he said you need to have a "blight study." In the case of Union Corners, Olinger said, "we don't have a blight study, and we don't (yet) have a TIF district."  There will be a meeting on Monday March 15, he said, with Alders Olson, Benford and Markle to talk about using TIF at Union Corners.  One of the questions is if a TIF district is established, could the boundaries of the district be drawn to include a larger area beyond just the boundaries of the McGrath development, to try to accomplish some other goals in the surrounding area - for example, improvements to Winnebago, further down towards Fourth Street?

  • Whether to establish a redevelopment district at Union Corners is a completely different question - separate from the issue of TIF.  "We don't know if there's going to be a redevelopment district established," Olinger said. A redevelopment district allows us to do two things, he said: One, It allows the city to buy things - For example, we may need to buy property for an extension of Sixth Street; and Two, It allows us to acquire property through eminent domain, as a last resort, if negotiations with a property owner have broken down, if a property owner is holding up a development by insisting on a wildly high amount of money for their property.

  • It would probably be Fall 2005, Olinger said, before either a TIF district or a redevelopment district - or both - would be established. 

  • Alder Judy Olson told Olinger, "it would be useful to me to know, if 50% of a TIF district has to be considered 'blight', and then - in drawing the boundaries of the TIF district - can you just draw a big circle twice as big as the blight area?  Does there have to be continuity of the blight areas?" Olinger said, "I don't know.  "We try not to draw areas too large. I will try to have an answer to that by the 15th.  You can make TIF $$ expenditures only within a TIF district. But it's an interesting question, what could we capture?"

  • City Urban Design Commission member and Schenk-Atwood neighbor Mike Barrett then gave a presentation on Parking Cash Out (PCO) and encouraged McGrath to make full use of it at Union Corners, as a strategy to help reduce parking demand - and reduce the amount of land at Union Corners devoted to parking. Under PCO, an employer or landowner computes the cash value of a parking space, then offers employees or residents the choice: Do you want a parking spot? Or do you want the cash?  Barrett said he knows of one case locally - Physicians Plus on Regent Street - where 20% of the employees took the cash - thereby reducing demand for employee parking spots.  PCO helps maximize land value, Barrett said, by reducing the % of land a developer must devote to parking.  He urged McGrath to separate the parking space lease from the condo or apartment lease - make them two separate transactions - and not, in effect, "force" residents to pay for a parking space by making it part of the lease.  McGrath said he's seen, in some of his other developments, households moving in closer to the center of the city, from a home further out, going from "2 cars to 1, or 1 car to zero" - and he's looking for the same thing to happen at Union Corners.  Studio member Doug Johnson told McGrath having a PCO policy in place might help him get city approval to provide less than 1-to-1 parking.

  • Todd McGrath then described the kind of housing he intends to build at Union Corners.  "We're trying to develop a product that serves this immediate area," McGrath said.  "Draw a one-mile radius circle, look at what kinds of people, what kinds of housing choices are here now.  We're looking to offer choices that don't exist in the market now.  Different sizes and shapes.  Smaller units.  Ideas that aren't being addressed.

  • "We want to create a new urban environment here, an urban village, if you will.  Strategically located. We think we can offer a really great urban experience at less cost than right downtown because the cost of land is so much greater there. We think we'll be able to do things that are almost impossible in a downtown neighborhood."

  • McGrath mentioned some of the financing tools he is considering. He is not sure yet if the site will qualify for Brownfield cleanup financial assistance.  Though there is battery waste on the site, the property may not be quite polluted or toxic enough to qualify for Brownfield funding.

  • As for % of affordable units, McGrath said, "we think we can exceed some of the (new city) IZ (inclusionary zoning) law requirements."  He does not yet have a feel for what % of units might be rental, and what % ownership. In his other developments, he said, "We have more experience with ownership."  He said he'll likely "bring in some people who have experience with rental" to help him, as needed, on that side.

  • Judy Olson suggested McGrath consider assigning some units to a non-profit - to let the non-profit use tools available only to a non-profit.  McGrath cited a Milwaukee developer, Barry Mandel, who uses a 'lease-to-own' idea where residents "can build up credits that can be used in his ownership buildings."  Mike Barrett mentioned "energy-efficient mortgages" and "location-efficient mortgages." Olinger said there are transit-related mortgages, where lenders figure if you're using public transit, and not using a car, you're spending less on transportation, so they let you use a higher % of your monthly income.  McGrath said they might also use an arrangement where his development company will not actually be selling the land but only leasing the land to condo buyers.  McGrath would finance the land component so the condo buyer's down payment can be less, because the condo buyer is buying only the constructed-unit portion not the land portion.  Doug Johnson cited the idea of creating a limited-equity co-op - where, when condo owners want to leave, they sell their unit back to the co-op.

  • Studio members talked briefly, and in general, about building height - about the trade-off between a taller building creating a smaller footprint, and therefore more space vs. buildings not as tall covering a greater % of the site.  Olinger said, "I have my issues with height, sometimes.  It depends on what you get from the trade-off."  Studio member Trudy Younger asked, "How tall is 'tall'?"  Younger and Studio member Leslie Christopherson both said any green space created should be something "usable" - not just mowed and manicured lawn that nobody uses.  Studio member Eric Schramm said the 'affordable housing' component is really important to him - and if a taller building meant more density, therefore lower cost per unit, making it more affordable, then he would be willing to consider height but "I don't think it should stick out like a sore thumb, either."  McGrath said he's considering creating a building tall enough to have "lake views and Capitol views."  Views are sometimes seen as "a class issue," he said. "But why shouldn't people with modest incomes have lake views and Capitol views, too?"

  • Several neighbors returned to the subject of framing green spaces to make them, as one put it, "intimate little treasures" instead of "dead" and undefined - spaces that nobody uses.  McGrath said he's considering a public sculpture garden as part of the development.  He said he would also consider various types of gardening - including raised bed gardens.

  • McGrath plans to submit a General Development Plan (GDP) to the city by June.  Ald. Olson asked, "How specific will the GDP be?"  McGrath said, "A GDP can be very general.  It can mention a range of building heights, bulk, ...very general."  Ald. Olson pointedly reminded McGrath that "there's still Winnebago" to deal with.  Olson has said one of her priorities is to make sure Winnebago Street is treated in such a way as to not encourage more through traffic on the Winnebago-Willy Street corridor.

  • Trudy Younger said her customers ask her about the development every day.  "Every day people ask me two things, When are they going to break ground?  And when are they going to get a grocery over there?"  

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Union Corners Planning Studio Meeting Notes
Holy Cross Lutheran Church 
Salvation Army Community Center   
February 25, 2004

22 neighbors  (10 Studio members + 12 other neighbors not officially designated Studio members), 4 members of the McGrath team

  • Studio member Michael Carlson displayed a series of drawings.  Studio attendees gathered around a tabletop as Carlson outlined a six-step way of thinking about site design - "primary centers" (a system of public landmarks), connect them, boundaries, and "secondary centers" (more private).  The drawings, he said, might suggest how to achieve structure and form on a site - how to achieve balance between the buildings ("masses") and open space ("voids").

  • Todd McGrath then introduced Chris Gallagher, his architect from Eppstein Uhen Architects, Milwaukee, to describe some preliminary site plans. What we are showing you tonight, McGrath said, is part of "an ongoing discussion. Clearly, we have a long way to go, but this is a start."  Gallagher emphasized, "We are very early in the process."  The McGrath team distributed copies of a five-page 11x17 document with three site plans ["B," "B1," and "C"] and a streetscape sketch.  

  • Gallagher said, "The first two site plans I'm going to show you ["B" and "B1"] are studies of how to fit the Atwood Community Center on the site and also accomplish some of our goals."  [Note: The Atwood Community Center board is considering three expansion options. One option would be to be part of the McGrath development.  The Atwood board has not made a decision yet.]  One idea, Gallagher said, ["B1"} would be to place a new Atwood Community Center building at the "back" (eastern edge) of the site - against the backyards of homes along Farwell Street.  You would come down Sullivan Street - a "promenade," Gallagher said, "and at the end of this main street, you would come to the community center."  Under "B1" the community center building would frame your view, coming down Sullivan - you'd see it down at the end of Sullivan, all the way from Winnebago.  The second scenario for incorporating Atwood Community Center ["B"], Gallagher said, would involve putting the community center into the French Battery Building at the "front" of the site - along with a building addition. Under "B" there would be row houses at the end of Sullivan where the community center would be under "B1".  On building height, Gallagher said, overall they are looking at "three- to six-stories." Todd McGrath quickly interjected "we're still a little early to talk about building height."

  • McGrath consultant Tim Anderson, of Schreiber-Anderson, talked about where, on the site, "it might be logical to have anchors" - anchor uses like a grocery.  He also talked about, do we move a building back off of East Washington, to create some space fronting the building? Or do we move a building up to the sidewalk along East Washington - and create the social space on the 'back' (Winnebago) side?  He talked about putting a grocery right at the corner of East Washington and Milwaukee Street to "anchor" that corner.  Gallagher showed photos from other cities to illustrate some of the things the McGrath team is considering - "iconic shapes," "mid-rise" - 3- to 4-stories, expressive detail at the corners of buildings, green on top of the underground parking structure, a choice of what kind of 'character' you Want to express: 'more hip and up-to-date' vs. more traditional. 

  • The Studio then split into two groups to react to the preliminary site plans.  Here are some of the comments recorded at the two discussion groups - Add significance to the East Washington-Milwaukee Street corner. Should be a place of public prominence to the larger community.  Don't turn your back to East Washington.  Stores along East Washington should have entrances on both sides - East Washington and Winnebago.  Frame the street with buildings.  Welcoming architecture. Wide sidewalks.

  • Focal point and continuity.  Community Center at end of 'promenade.' Larger green space in center - more of a village green. A 'town square' - Circle Park type of feeling.  Architectural theme. Visual interest. Focal point. Creative landscaping. Urban texture.  Public outdoor art.  Cafe or beer garden spilling out into the center.

  • Explore Section 42 for some low-income.  Balance ownership-rental about 50-50.  Mix of less expensive townhouses or lofts with more expensive units.  Provide units for those who choose to rent as a matter of lifestyle.

  • Pedestrian paths within the development.  Increase ability to navigate through.  Connect green spaces.  Narrow, framed, intimate pathways.  Don't want to walk through 'fields of pavement.' Multiple entrances into or through buildings.  How will it feel to walk past / through the development? Ask yourself, 'Would I walk on this street?'

  • Parking is driving planning. You just cannot create an urban area when you have big open fields of surface parking.  McGrath says he's trying to challenge potential business tenants to consider less parking.  Some businesses want five parking spaces per 1,000 square feet; McGrath is looking at three or four.

  • Still a lot of space given over to cars.  Need more walking links - away from cars.  People want to get away from cars, will welcome a respite from cars. Too many streets.  Comments pro and con about the 'new Winnebago Street' proposed on site plan "C;" some like it, some don't.  Would like to see buildings line both sides of Winnebago.

  • Want the site to feel urban - not suburban.  Don't want suburban model of winding roads, separate buildings set far apart, each with its own parking.  Want one shared surface parking space to serve all buildings. Park once and walk to multiple destinations.  Urban form - Push buildings up to the sidewalk edge. More nuance, less "emptiness."

  • When the two groups gathered back together, there was some further discussion --Yes, some immediate neighbors will want to be able to walk to the grocery but we still have to accommodate people who drive.

  • Willy Street Co-Op general manager possibly interested in a location at the "back" of the site (eastern edge), against Farwell Street backyards, at the end of Sullivan Street, where the "B1" site plan places the Atwood Community Center building. 

  • McGrath says "I don't have a strong opinion, either way" about whether there should be a street connection at the "back" of the site - to Farwell.  [Note: Farwell is a dead-end now, from South Court to the RR tracks.]   Neighbors on Farwell, North Court, South Court, and Corry don't want the increased traffic. Gallagher says this happens all the time: "You go into a city, the city encourages you to connect with the existing neighborhood.  Then you start to meet with the neighbors, and they don't want to connect."

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February 11, 2004

21 neighbors  (11 Studio members + 10 other neighbors not officially designated Studio members), 3 members of the McGrath team

  • EINPC facilitator Rebecca Krantz reminded Studio members the McGrath team goal is to complete a general development plan by late May-early June. "So," she said, "we need to try to wrap up at least this phase of our work by the end of May."

  • "On Monday (Feb 9)," City Planning director Mark Olinger reported, "for the first time, City staff had a team meeting with the McGrath development team." Eight city staff from different departments were at the meeting - including Engineering, Traffic Engineering, Planning, plus Dave Trowbridge, who staffs the Transportation 2020 process and is a resource on rail issues.  Olinger said much of the time at the team meeting was spent talking about Sullivan vs. Sixth as a main access point off East Washington. There is some concern among City staff, he said, about how the signal progression would work on East Washington if lights were added at either Sullivan or Sixth.  A main access point off East Washington is a "big deal" to those at the meeting, Olinger said.  A second team meeting is set for March 1, he said, "and maybe another in mid-March." The feeling right now, Olinger said, is the first phase of the Union Corners development might not require adding traffic lights on East Washington at all.  Giving pedestrians enough time to cross East Washington came up.  There was some discussion of access off Milwaukee Street, less discussion of access from the "back" side off the end of Farwell.

  • There was also talk at the team meeting about a possible pedestrian-bike crossing of the RR tracks - at either Jackson, Ohio or Dunning - to help link the McGrath development with the neighborhood to the south.  Eric Schramm asked if they discussed the question of a grade crossing vs. a bridge over the RR tracks. They did not.  The thinking, at this point, is we would be considering a grade crossing. Tim Anderson, of McGrath consultants Schreiber-Anderson, said if a bridge were to be considered, there would be "clearance issues," raising questions of how high a bridge would have to be.  Olinger said it would be "about a six-month process" if the City chose to go to the RR Commissioner to ask for a pedestrian-bike crossing.

  • Future team meetings will involve other City staff people. Membership of the City team will change, as needed, Olinger said, and may involve Real Estate and development people in the future since either Sullivan or Sixth would require land acquisition.

  • Krantz reviewed the comments neighbors made at September 24 and September 29, 2003 Union Corners meetings - particularly about what kinds of housing and what kinds of businesses they'd like to see.   

  • Todd McGrath handed out copies of a BUBBLE DIAGRAM - POTENTIAL LAND USE SCENARIO that suggests areas where various land uses might go on the site without identifying exact building footprints.  At the next Studio meeting (February 25), McGrath said, we'll take a crack at our first preliminary general development plan, where we identify a few building footprints and identify the internal circulation streets.

  • If Studio members want to see "a real-life example" of some of the things the McGrath team is considering for the Union Corners site, like green roofs and enclosing (concealing) parking with landscaping, he said they should look at 4th Ward Lofts, a McGrath development in the Findorff Yards area, across the street from the Badger Bus station.  McGrath suggested Studio members may want to tour 4th Ward Lofts and some other buildings in that area - the Keller family, he said, has done an interesting building on the Joyce Funeral Home site.  A tour might give Studio members a better feel for some of what he is proposing. He said he likes the new Common Wealth development along the Yahara River also.

  • The Bubble Diagram map shows both Sullivan and Sixth as "Potential Signal (traffic light) Locations."  Whether it's Sullivan or Sixth that becomes the main access point onto and off of East Washington, McGrath said, "it's important that it could be signalized in the future" if conditions warrant.

  • In front of the French Battery building, the Bubble Diagram shows expanded green space. The McGrath team wants to add to the grass and trees there by closing Division Street from LaFollette to Winnebago - turning that pavement into gardens or green space.  Gardens on the vacated Division Street right-of-way could be created and maintained by neighbors, McGrath suggested. This green area, he said, could become the kind of space that attracts people to walk, sit, eat and meet people.

  • At the French Battery building and east along the RR tracks, the Bubble Diagram shows "Community Center." The Union Corners site is one of three options the Atwood Community Center Board is considering for a new location.  McGrath said "We have agreed to go to their February 23 Board meeting to talk to them about it."  Another possibility, he said, would be to use the first floor of the French Battery building as commercial with residences above.  Under one scenario, Ford's Gym might relocate to the main floor of the French Battery building at Sullivan Street. 

  • The rest of the Bubble Diagram shows "Retail with Housing Above" along East Washington - with a Grocery possibly located along East Washington between Sullivan and Florence; "Residential with Street Level Commercial" south of the proposed Sullivan Street Extension - between Sullivan and the RR tracks; "Residential / Senior Housing" along the north side of Sullivan, set back from East Washington; and "Residential / Row houses" at the 'back' of the property lined up north-south with Anzinger Court.

  • McGrath said he has talked with Willy Street Co-Op General Manager Anya Firszt about a second Co-Op location at Union Corners. The talks were "encouraging," he said. "They're open to housing above."  He asked if a Union Corners Co-Op could have a meat counter, and if so, "Do we have to have $16 a pound bologna?"

  • McGrath plans a total of 300 housing units (apartments and condominiums) - rental units closer to East Washington, owner-occupied units further from East Washington - plus 110,000 square feet of commercial space - which might include a grocery, like a Willy Street Co-Op, a hardware store (Ace on Willy Street is interested in a possible second location), a flower shop, pharmacy, a restaurant (the owners of Cleveland's Diner on East Wilson are interested in opening a Greek restaurant - there is a potential connection with the Greek church across the street).  "I wouldn't say we're really to the point of 'negotiating' yet," McGrath said. "I would say we've 'started a conversation' with Ace, and with Willy Street Co-Op".  Studio members expressed support for both the Willy Street Co-Op second location and the Willy Street Ace Hardware second location as "anchor" tenants.  Trudy Younger said Union Corners would be a "great location" for a hardware store.

  • Asked if he would encourage a variety of different looks within the development, rather than impose a single look, McGrath said he likes the 'industrial-style appearance' of the French Battery building, as a theme, "but we're open to the idea of several different looks."

  • Does he plan to build right up to the sidewalk edge along East Washington? "We want to study that," McGrath said. "Not necessarily." Tim Anderson said you might have a setback from the sidewalk edge in order to "accommodate street life, lots of foot traffic."  McGrath said maybe the tables-and-chairs sitting space could be on the internal side of the buildings, not on the East Washington side. 

  • McGrath said he plans to ask that a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) district be created. Use of TIF, he said, "could really help us do a more quality development."  TIF $ could be used, he said, to acquire right-of-way, build storm water infrastructure.  Some suggest the boundaries of a TIF district should be drawn larger than the McGrath development itself to help pay for related area infrastructure improvements.

  • Lance McGrath has been working with engineers on environmental remediation. "We'll be dealing with storm water throughout the site," he said. "Membrane roofs - if you get a heavy rain, you can store some of it, to delay the surge.  Green roofs.  Permeable pavers - paving blocks that allow a certain % of the storm water to percolate down into the soil, instead of all run off at once into the storm sewer.  We're looking at all these."

  • Mike Barrett said he "applauds what you guys are doing with storm water, spreading it out.  Green roofs would give you more usable space for your tenants."  Barrett urged that green space be made usable as 'green space connections' - pedestrian corridors - connecting various points in the area. At the previous Studio meeting (January 28) Barrett showed a map highlighting critical pedestrian-bicycle routes linking pedestrian-bike traffic generators such as nearby parks and schools.  Barrett emphasized in particular, the important neighborhood pedestrian route through the Holy Cross Lutheran parking lot, and across Union Street, to connect Union Corners with the East Madison Shopping Center (Hawthorne Library).  He urged McGrath to build to the sidewalk edge - and to look for ways to reduce parking demand by, for example, making payment for a parking spot separate from - rather than part of - the lease.  Barrett also strongly urged McGrath to consider a "variety of looks" - rather than one, monochromatic look for the entire development.  Leslie Christopherson said she seconds the idea of pedestrian corridors - linking various points, building up to the sidewalk edge, and encouraging a variety of different looks.  McGrath said they will "try to create a rhythm on the street," encourage street (sidewalk) life.  That's one of the reasons, he said, they want to put surface parking to serve the retail "behind" the buildings, on the interior of the site.  Street-level space could be sold to a small businessperson who wants to live there, above their store or office.  Leslie Grossberg urged McGrath to consider use of water within the green spaces, high-efficiency living units, greenhouses, and reduced car use. There was also discussion of a large sculpture or other large-scale outdoor 'public art.'  

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January 28, 2004

19 neighbors (9 citizen Studio members  + 10 other neighbors not officially designated Studio members), 2 members of the McGrath team

  • Tonight's meeting, EINPC facilitator Rebecca Krantz said, would be a "wrap-up" of the Transportation topic for now.  "Last time," she said, "we came to a tentative agreement that Sullivan Street should be the main access connecting the McGrath development with East Washington.  That was conditional upon a number of things, including getting stoplights at Sullivan and East Washington. We'll be feeding the results of the Studio back into the developer, and the City, then we will probably be cycling back to Transportation again, later on, after we see how things shake out."

  • Lance McGrath said he'd like to "touch base on a couple of things."  A McGrath team meeting with City staff about the proposed Sullivan Street connection with East Washington "hopefully will happen next week," he said.

  • "We need to have good site access," McGrath said. Access to East Washington is important, he said, but "other connections" are also important. A good connection with Milwaukee Street, he said, is "right up there" in importance with a connection to East Washington. Also, he said, the McGrath team would like to open up a new street connection onto Farwell, to help tie the Union Corners development into the neighborhood.  He said they'd like this to be a low-key "truly neighborhood" link, to give immediate neighbors a convenient way into and out of the development.  (Note: Farwell is a dead-end south of South Court.)

  • Larry Lester, 2657 Milwaukee Street, asked why the area north of the RR tracks - Farwell, Corry, North Court, and South Court - should get more traffic on their streets when the area south of the RR tracks would not.  "I might have to go door to door in there" (South Court, Farwell, etc), Lester said, "and let those people know what's going on. If the goal is to 'tie the development into the neighborhood,' then why not open up streets across the RR tracks to the south also?"

  • "According to everything we've been told," McGrath said, "it would be close to impossible to add a new grade crossing (across the RR tracks to the south). Look, I didn't want to open up a can of worms tonight. Let me just say, I think with the proper design, a new street connection could be opened up onto Farwell, and it could be done in a way that it would not add many vehicles to those streets."

  • Krantz told Lester, "OK. I understand this is a concern that hasn't been adequately addressed. Maybe we could make a note of it and return to this at a later time."

  • Lester said, "Those streets (Farwell, South Court, North Court) are so tight, so narrow now, they can't even be plowed properly. So why even open it up? Keep the end of Farwell sealed, as it is now.  Once people learn they can get out that way, it will severely effect that neighborhood," Lester said.  "It sounds very nice to say, 'tie it into the neighborhood' but it seems to me we're trying to protect the neighborhood south of the tracks, at the expense of the area north of the tracks.  There's people living there, too, you know."

  • McGrath consultant Tim Anderson, of Schreiber-Anderson, talked about pedestrian and bike connections through the area now and possible future connections. 

  • Krantz reported information from Dave Trowbridge, who staffs the Transportation 2020 planning process, about possible commuter rail (Sun Prairie-Middleton) and/or high-speed rail (Chicago-Minneapolis/St.Paul) links that would run right by the property.

  • There was some discussion about a possible commuter rail stop being incorporated into the Union Corners development - and what this might mean.  Doug Johnson said commuter rail is an "unknown" and it might not be fair to ask McGrath to set aside space in his development for a stop on a commuter rail line that may or may not ever happen. Lance McGrath said, "It would be hard to mothball a piece of property."

  • Another potential drawback for McGrath, if a commuter rail stop were located there, would be commuters might use his retail parking spaces as, in effect, a 'Park And Ride' lot. 

  • Angie Castillo, of South Marquette Street, said affordable housing opportunities might be lost if a commuter rail stop were located there, because property values typically go up adjacent to a commuter rail stop - so land might become too expensive.

  • Studio members also had questions about how much space would be needed for a commuter rail stop - and about the amount of parking that might be required around a commuter rail stop: Little? A lot?  Or none at all?  Would driving to the commuter rail stop - parking, then riding - be encouraged? Or discouraged?

  • Krantz then reported information about the bus system from Tim Sobota, of Madison Metro.  Main routes serving the Union Corners area are 4, 5 and 6.  Neighbors and Studio members agreed the current system works well, that buses should remain on the major grid streets, and that there's no need to try to bring the buses into the Union Corners development itself.

  • City Pedestrian-Bike coordinator Arthur Ross then talked about pedestrian and bike connections.  Most of his remarks dealt with the rail corridor itself.  Lance McGrath, Tim Anderson and City Planning Director Mark Olinger said they would come back to the next Studio meeting, in two weeks, with more information on what the City would have to do to try to get approval of a pedestrian-bike grade crossing of the RR tracks at Jackson.  

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January 14, 2004

25 neighbors (10 citizen Studio members + 15 other neighbors not officially designated Studio members), 2 members of the McGrath team

  • At the conclusion of this night's meeting, neighbors made two decisions.  The Studio advised the McGrath team: 1. To create one new primary access street -- Sullivan Street, just north of Trudy's - not two new streets - Sullivan and Sixth - to connect the McGrath development with East Washington Avenue; and 2. To design the Sullivan-Winnebago Street intersection in a way that would discourage use of Winnebago as a regional thorough street. 

  • Todd McGrath was away on vacation.  His brother Lance McGrath made some introductory remarks about: 1. "The different parameters we gave to John Lichtenheld" for him to be able to prepare traffic projections; 2. McGrath discussions with various grocers; and 3. "Our timeline."

  • It's too early for McGrath to know what the future development will look like but in order to do traffic projections, they needed to give McGrath consultant John Lichtenheld, of Schreiber-Anderson, something to go on.  So, Lance said, they told him to base his projections on a possible future development of 300 dwelling units plus 110,000 square feet of commercial. That, he said, would likely generate about 8,000 trips per day.  (Note: Each in and out is counted as a separate "trip." So a car pulling in to a grocery, for example, then pulling out again would be counted, in that 8,000, as two "trips". )  A grocery is considered to be the largest "trip-generator." McGrath is thinking Union Corners commercial might include a grocery, office space and specialty retail.

  • McGrath has had discussions with a number of interested grocers. Two of them, Lance said, "have actually taken the time to sit down with us" to begin to talk in some detail.  The two grocers, he said, "view the site completely differently."  One, a "regional" grocer, said it would prefer to be more at the back of the site, away from East Washington Avenue; the other, more of a "local grocer," he said, "would prefer to have frontage along East Washington Avenue." "It just goes to show you," Lance said, how two potential tenants have two completely different approaches - and, in your planning, you "need to allow for flexibility" to respond to different tenants' desires. 

  • As far as arranging clean up of the site, Rayovac is "actually ahead of schedule," Lance said. Rayovac and DNR have been meeting.  Rayovac's environmental consultants, he said, could "possibly" be ready to start actual on-site work "as soon as mid- to late-March."  "They would probably like us to be out knocking down buildings by then," Lance said, so they can get started with their work.

  • Lance also told the Studio "we need to make a decision today" on access streets into and out of the site to East Washington Avenue.  The McGrath team, he said, wants to create two new access streets -Sullivan and Sixth Street.  If there are concerns about Winnebago - about preventing traffic from shooting down Winnebago and into neighborhoods, he said, "We can look at that down the road."

  • EINPC facilitator Rebecca Krantz reminded the Studio that the original game plan was to punctuate the smaller regular Studio meetings with larger public meetings, from time to time, to bring a larger group of neighbors together to get their advice and correction on where the Studio had gotten so far.  The original plan was to have one of these larger meetings on January 28.  That idea is being scrapped, she said.  The first big public meeting will now likely be held "in February or March," she said.  She showed Studio members a revised timeline. "This timeline is pretty tight," she said. "We're a little behind." "When I heard this about the two grocers being interested," she said, "I thought people would be excited to get on to that topic - so, I thought, at least provisionally, we could close out the discussion on access to East Washington Avenue tonight, and move on to other topics." 

  • Peter Wolff, of the Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA), said MNA and Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara Neighborhood Association (SASYNA) "want to bring up a proposal" dealing with Winnebago.

  • McGrath consultant John Lichtenheld then went through the traffic numbers he put together. He looked at: 1. 2001 actual ground counts; 2. McGrath projections, and Transportation 2020 projections.  The McGrath estimate of 8,000 "trips" in and out each day "is based on national averages - experience all over the country," he said, "and that number is probably on the high end."  Some retail trips, he pointed out, will be "pass-by" trips - not "new" trips.  In other words, there will be vehicles already on East Washington Avenue now that will be stopping in. These vehicles would be on East Washington Avenue - and are already included in the numbers - whether the McGrath development is built or not.  As many as 30% to 60% of trips to McGrath retail could be "pass-by" trips, he said. 

  • "Our preference," Lichtenheld said, "or, our recommendation, would be to build two new streets to connect the development with East Washington Avenue - Sullivan and Sixth.  He acknowledged concerns about added traffic on Sixth - from East Washington Avenue to Packers - and how that would be "a hardship to the neighborhood." He said, "There are things we can do" to reduce the through traffic on Sixth between East Washington Avenue and Packers Avenue. 

  • Joe Krupp asked Lichtenheld if traffic lights at Sullivan and East Washington Avenue would even be possible, given how close Sullivan would be to existing lights at Milwaukee Street.  City Traffic Engineering "hasn't said no," Lichtenheld said.  Krupp noted that a Sullivan-East Washington Avenue intersection would be a "three-legged" (or, T) intersection (no Sullivan on other side of East Washington Avenue), while a Sixth Street-East Washington Avenue intersection would be a "four-legged" intersection and would better "serve" the neighborhood.

  • City Urban Design Commission member Mike Barrett asked how many regional commuters might use Winnebago as an alternative to East Washington Avenue.  Barrett also questioned "expansion" of the Milwaukee Street-East Washington Avenue intersection, as part of the big East Washington Avenue reconstruction. The redesign includes the addition of a number of turn lanes.  Studio member Barb Irvin raised the question of pedestrian safety at the Milwaukee Street-East Washington Avenue intersection.

  • Division Street neighbor Ron Schutz asked if the 8,000 trips per day figure included delivery trucks. Yes, Lichtenheld said, all trips, all vehicles are included in the numbers. 

  • Sixth Street now is "a major cut-through," Irvin said. "It's the only street that goes from East Washington Avenue to Packers Avenue.  Cabs and fire trucks use it. There's all the traffic into and out of Emerson Elementary School."  Alder Judy Olson said if Sixth Street is extended from East Washington Avenue to the McGrath development, and if there are traffic lights at Sixth, then "I see a continuation of cut-through" traffic using Sixth - and Winnebago.

  • If both Sixth and Sullivan are going to happen, Studio members said, maybe we need to prioritize ...Do one first, then see if the other is necessary.   Rebecca said, "Lance, you said you'd like a provisional decision tonight to proceed with both?"  Yes, Lance said, we'd like to proceed with both.  Only one would get traffic lights; the other would likely be a right turn-in, right turnout only. Which one would get lights, he said, "that could be decided later." 

  • City Planning Director Mark Olinger said, If you have lights at Sullivan-East Washington Avenue, why would you want to do Sixth also?  It would spread the load out, Lance said.  "What does it get you?" Olinger said. "I just don't see it. I'm looking at cost. When you look at the cost of acquisition (of the Sixth Street right-of-way) (Audio-Visual Restorations) especially if you have Sixth with a solid median - What does Sixth Street get you?  Sixth Street - all that expense - doesn't make sense to me. I don't think Sixth Street would be used all that much."  Joe Krupp said, "The only way Sixth Street would make sense is if it's a full intersection, with a median break."

  • Will Warlick, of the Marquette Neighborhood Association (MNA), then presented an alternative approach to Winnebago.  Over the last month, Barrett, Wolff and Warlick have discussed Sullivan-East Washington-Winnebago.  The three agreed that people westbound on East Washington Avenue should not be able to turn L onto Sullivan, then R onto Winnebago - to zip down Winnebago as an 'alternative' regional through route instead of East Washington Avenue.  They want to create good access to the McGrath development while not opening up "a new corridor for Sun Prairie commuters."

  • So the Barrett-Warlick-Wolff plan would say vehicles westbound on East Washington Avenue could turn L at Sullivan, then must proceed straight into the McGrath development.  They could not turn R onto Winnebago. An R turn onto Winnebago would be prevented by a physical barrier (curb).  Similarly, vehicles eastbound on Winnebago could turn R at Sullivan into the development but could not turn L onto Sullivan and on out to East Washington Avenue.

  • The Barrett-Warlick-Wolff plan includes other ideas for reducing the speed of vehicles on Winnebago: 1. Narrowing the width of Winnebago, from the Schenk's Corners business district to the McGrath development - adding green space along the length of the street; 2. Adding a traffic calming circle at Fourth and Winnebago; and 3. Readjusting traffic lights at Atwood-Winnebago, to encourage traffic to head over to East Washington Avenue (via First), instead of shooting down Winnebago-Williamson Street. 

  • Studio members Eric Schramm and Trudy Younger said they liked the Barrett-Warlick-Wolff concept.  Alder Judy Olson said, "Anything you can do to reduce the use of Winnebago as a collector - as a cut-through - is good."

  • Joe Krupp mentioned the proposal to restore the western end of Winnebago (at the Yahara R) - from the bike path crossing to First Street - to two-way traffic (that stretch is one-way now; east bound traffic must go onto the Eastwood bypass) - so that eastbound vehicles on Williamson Street could once again proceed straight east on Winnebago to the Schenk's Corners business district.  Krupp suggested that what happens on the eastern end of Winnebago (at Sullivan) is "very much a part of" what happens on the western end (at the Yahara R).

  • By this time it was 8:45 PM. Rebecca noted, "We're trying to get some closure" by 9:00 PM.  Studio members generally were in favor of going with Sullivan, and keeping cars off of Sixth, although, some noted, it all depends on whether you get lights at Sullivan.  If you don't, they said, then you're going to need Sixth.  Lance said lights at Sullivan "would be our preference, because Sullivan would be in the middle of the development.  Except if there's a use of the French Battery building that would benefit from bringing vehicles right to it" via Sixth Street.  The Studio then agreed to recommend to the McGrath team that they plan on one street - Sullivan - to connect with East Washington Avenue - not two - and that Sixth be kept 'in the drawer' - in the 'back pocket,' so to speak - to be reconsidered only if there are problems with Sullivan in the future - or if the city does not allow lights or a median break at Sullivan-East Washington Avenue.  The Studio also expressed agreement with the idea of vacating (eliminating) Winnebago Street from Sullivan Street to the East Washington Avenue merge (Florence Street). That land could then be incorporated into the McGrath development as additional East Washington frontage.

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December 3, 2003 Meeting Notes

  • EINPC facilitator Rebecca Krantz reminded Studio members that McGrath Associates has a certain limited amount of time to listen to Studio members' ideas.  McGrath has to be ready to submit a development plan for the French Battery portion of the property by June.  The Studio process is something McGrath agreed to voluntarily; he is not required to do this.  When you open up a process like this, Krantz said, it gets people's hopes up. Neighbors want to "dream big" and have "meaningful input," but because of the time constraints, Krantz said, "We may not be able to dream as big as we'd like."

  • "Most of the time we'll be reacting to developers' ideas," she said.  Krantz encouraged Studio members to not think of themselves as coming up with brand new ideas on their own; instead, she urged them to embrace the role of reacting to McGrath Associates ideas, offering advice, feedback and correction, then seeing what revisions the McGrath team may bring back to the next Studio meeting.  Otherwise, she said, at some point we may have to just go ahead with certain decisions because time has run out and "the train is leaving the station."

  • Todd McGrath said, "A number of people have approached us" about possibly locating in a Union Corners development. A grocery store is "critical," he noted. "We've been contacted by grocery, hardware, banking. Spruce Tree Music has contacted us.  We're thinking of neighborhood convenience uses like a postal station.  Discussions have been very general.  We have not done a formal market study. Anya, from Willy Street Co-Op, said they have done a formal market study, and they have identified this site as a potential second site."

  • "Some of you have suggested we talk in detail about land use on the site before we talk about transportation," McGrath said. "Some of you have said, 'How can we talk about access before we know 'access to what?'  But I need to know. I need to know, first, what the access points into the site are going to be.  I need to know that.  That will help shape decisions on how the site is going to be organized."

  • Krantz said "our main focus tonight is going to be the Winnebago merge" - Winnebago enters East Wash near Florence Street (Ford's Gym) - and how do McGrath customers and residents get on and off East Wash?

  • The McGrath team does not like the existing Winnebago merge; they would rather end Winnebago at a new Sixth Street or a new Sullivan Street connecting the McGrath development with East Wash, then vacate the existing Winnebago right-of-way from Sullivan up to the merge with East Wash - and incorporate that area into the McGrath development.

  • John Lichtenheld, of McGrath consultants Schreiber-Anderson, said it's always been a "chicken-and-egg" problem in planning, "Which comes first? The transportation? Or the land use?"

  • On the question of how do McGrath customers and residents get onto and off East Wash, he said, the first option is, to some extent, "the status quo" - what is in the East Wash Reconstruction plans now.  That is to get rid of the existing merge and, instead, have a plain T intersection of Winnebago with Florence St. Then, if you wanted to get out onto East Wash, you'd make a Left turn from Winnebago onto Florence, stop almost immediately at another Stop sign at Florence and East Wash. Then make a Right turn onto East Wash.  "From our standpoint," Lichtenheld said, "this does not really accomplish anything. It's a terrible situation. This is one we'd like to see improve."

  • The second option, he said, would be to create an extension of Sullivan St, across Winnebago, between Trudy's and the insurance company building, meeting up with East Wash across from the Victory Arms apartment building. One advantage with Sullivan, he said, is "this would give us full access in the middle of the development." One concern with Sullivan, though, would be it might be "too close" to the existing stoplights at Milwaukee Street and you'd have to go with a right-turn-in, right-turn-out only at Sullivan, with no crossing of East Wash, because the city would not allow you to put stoplights there.

  • The third option would be to create an extension of Sixth St.  One advantage with Sixth St is it's further from Milwaukee Street than Sullivan - which would perhaps allow the placing of stoplights there.  One concern with Sixth, though, is it might encourage increased traffic through the Emerson East Neighborhood, through to E Johnson and on to Packers - which Emerson East neighbors would strongly object to.  So, if Sixth St were chosen, the problem of increased traffic on Sixth from East Wash to Packers would have to be addressed. Neighbor Eric Schramm said he likes Option #2 (Sullivan); Option #3, he said, would just "create too much traffic" on Sixth Street from East Wash to Packers. Tim Anderson, of McGrath consultants Schreiber-Anderson, said "Before you discount any of these options, like Sixth Street, let's look at how we could mitigate possible traffic effects" on the other side of East Wash to Packers.

  • Other Studio members then began to express preferences for Option #1, #2 or #3.  Trudy Younger said if Sullivan (option #2) were chosen, she would like to see a full, signalized intersection there - with left and right turns.  Barb Irvin said she likes Option #2; she said she likes the idea of vacating Winnebago Street from Sullivan up to the East Wash merge. Winnebago is "so wide," right now, she said; "it's so much pavement." It would be nice to put that land to use, she said, by incorporating it into the McGrath development - presenting a "bigger face" to East Wash - and increasing the development's visibility.

  • The McGrath team cautioned Studio members they would likely get a maximum of one median break, if that, across East Wash - from Fifth to Milwaukee.  During East Wash Reconstruction planning, staff was trying to eliminate median breaks, not add more.  So you will not get a median break at Sixth and at Sullivan. You would have to choose one or the other, and make the other a right-turn-in, right-turn-out only with a solid median to prevent crossing to, or turns across, westbound East Wash.

  • Studio member Doug Johnson asked if the McGrath people had talked with City staff about a stoplight at Sullivan.  City staff seems to be open to putting a median break at Sullivan, they said, if that's where the development wants one. As far as lights, they said Sullivan would have to meet standard eligibility criteria for placement of stoplights.

  • Studio members discussed, back and forth, how much McGrath customers and residents might use Milwaukee Street as an access point off of East Wash.  As part of the East Wash Reconstruction, the city plans to add a Left Turn Only lane on westbound East Wash at Milwaukee St.  McGrath customers and residents westbound on East Wash could turn Left onto Milwaukee Street, then turn Right down a proposed new street, parallel to Anzinger Ct, at a point roughly where the back of the Kohl's store is now.  Some Studio members said they thought, even if a full signalized Sullivan St intersection were created as the "main access point" into the McGrath development, some people on westbound East Wash would choose to turn Left at Milwaukee, instead of Sullivan, and use Milwaukee Street as their main access point into the McGrath development from westbound East Wash.  Sara Cress said, "We need to look at diverting traffic away from Milwaukee Street.  Milwaukee Street takes too much traffic now. I'm sold on Option #3.  Option #3 (Sixth Street) would give you the greatest separation from Milwaukee Street."

  • Alder Judy Olson said "maybe Option #2 and #3," rather than choosing one or the other.  "Yeah," McGrath said, "We've been thinking of that too.  More than one new access point."

  • Sara Cress concluded the meeting by saying, "Thank you, to Mr. McGrath, for being willing to listen."

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November 19 Union Corners Studio Meeting Notes

Agenda Item: Business of the Studio

  • Meetings are to be held at the Atwood Community center until further notice; if notice comes, it will come after the New Year.

  • Because the Studio is still growing and changing, as more folks learn of it, the Studio must resolve how to include new members. How much information ought they receive? Should volunteers arrive early to update newcomers? Will newcomers know to come early, to be so updated? Rather than meeting early to update newcomers, the group decided it was enough to continue to make the notes and updates available at the project website and in hardcopy at the Hawthorne Library.

  • The members of the group have resolved to learn one another's names rather than use name plates or name tags.

  • Rebecca needs help with administrative tasks and setting the meeting agendas.  Leslie Grossberg, Leslie Christopherson, and Mary Putman volunteered to be an "agenda crew."  More help is always welcome.  Tell Rebecca if you are willing or able to help out between meetings. 

  • Childcare can be arranged with five day's notice.

  • City Cable might be persuaded to broadcast Studio meetings, but the Studio will make no formal effort to broadcast its proceedings, except for the special meetings devoted to broader public outreach. 

Agenda Item: Reflections on Site Tour

  • Comments regarding the tour of the site: Members agreed that the Union Corners site is both lovely and persnickety. Folks familiar with the site respond positively to its proximity, and the history reflected in its structures. Also, the land sheds buckets of water and is contaminated with battery residue, which worries people, and seems to limit what buildings can or can't be saved. Everyone is encouraged to attend the tour, or visit the land somehow, to get a sense of the scale of the land and buildings.

  • Discussion regarding which comes first: "Should we begin with roads, or should we begin with buildings?" How should the space be formed? What ought to be built there?

  • Leslie Christopherson asked if all buildings on site now except the French Battery building necessarily have to come down.  Lance McGrath acknowledged some of the existing Rayovac  buildings have "some nice qualities" but he reminded Studio members: "Our main goal is to purchase a clean site." He said it's one thing to remove a building, so you have only a concrete slab floor to deal with, then tear up that concrete and remove battery waste.  It's entirely another thing to "work around" a standing building when trying to remove battery waste. That, he said, would significantly increase costs and perhaps compromise the clean-up and removal work.  Also, Lance reminded Studio members, leaving an existing building in place may interfere with one of the other Studio goals, such as landing a new neighborhood grocery.  Studio members did not agree on whether existing Rayovac buildings besides the French Battery building were even worth considering. Comments ranged from some buildings could be "beautiful" to "When I look at the site now, I think it's ugly."  Trudy Younger asked McGrath if it would even be technically "possible" to keep some of the existing buildings--are they in good enough shape?  "We're trying to keep an open mind," he said; but reminded Studio members site clean-up is first priority.  Angie Castillo suggested, if some members wish to advocate that certain buildings be considered for preservation, they should identify on a map "which buildings they're interested in." McGrath said there are 27 buildings on the site now.

Agenda Item: Presentation by City Transportation

  • Men from the City spoke regarding the reconstruction of the street pattern surrounding the site. It was clear that cars are difficult to accommodate to everyone's satisfaction. In general, neighbors hope to walk and bike there safely, and they will take mass transit to and from the site, if it's available. The folks from the City are working hard to understand and solve the traffic problems that the redevelopment might create.

  • John Lichtenheld, a Traffic Engineer with Schrieber/Anderson (planning

    consultants to the developers) presented three possible street configurations,

    all three of them with Sullivan Street extended though the property to a new

    proposed street that ultimately has access to Milwaukee Street, and all three also

    propose to close off the portion of Division Street between Lafollette and

    Winnebago. "Option 1" extends Sullivan Street from Winnebago to East Washington Avenue, closing off the remainder of Winnebago from Sullivan to the

    East Washington/Milwaukee intersection. "Option 2" ends Winnebago at Florence Street with right-angle access onto East Washington just before Florence and at Florence.  "Option 3" ends Winnebago at Sullivan Street and extends Sixth Street from East Washington to Winnebago and creates a new segment of street that links Lafollette and Winnebago. Discussion of these three options was tabled to the next

    meeting.

  • Deputy City Engineer Rob Phillips said the city is "not married to" the Winnebago Street redesign as in the East Washington Reconstruction documents filed thus far with WisDOT and the feds.  East Washington Reconstruct plans currently replace the Winnebago Street merge with a 'T' intersection and Stop sign at Florence-East Washington so vehicles traveling east on Winnebago would stop at Florence, turn L, stop at East Washington, turn R onto East Washington. Phillips said "We don't have to do this." The City came up with this solution, as a stopgap, he said, just to have something down on paper to get through the Environmental Assessment process. Work on East Washington from Second Street to Highway 30 is planned for 2007; that's far enough in the future, Phillips said, that the city can change the treatment of Winnebago Street, and other aspects of the East Washington Reconstruct design.

Closing Business:

  • Any maps of the site or surrounding area are probably available for the asking. Ask at the meetings and either Rebecca or someone from the City will be able to get it for you.

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November 5, 2003 Union Corners Planning Studio

Attending the meeting:  Will Warlick, Mark Olinger, Kurt Schneider, Rita Giovannoni, Leah Emmerich, Deacon Wayne Blue, Adam Jacobs, Beverly Scheuers, Courtney Curran, Donald E. Robb, John Young, Bob Mayville, Sara Cress, Leslie Christopherson, Trudy Younger, Archie Nicolette, Noel P. Anderson, Michael Carlson, Brett Myers, Judy Olson, Maureen Mross, Judy Ferre, Alyce C. Adkison, Alison Lindsay Mares, Mary Putman, Ron Schutz, Jen Voichick, Stan Szczepanowski, Nancy Dungan, Kevin Driscoll, Fritz Hastreiter, Mary Virgin, Joe Krupp, Barb Irvin, Todd McGrath, John Steines, Eric Schramm, Doug Johnson, Mark McFadden, and Rebecca Krantz (meeting facilitator)

Introductions (Mark McFadden)

  • Covered progress, organizations involved, roles, history and organization of the public input process.  The studio is a core group, but anyone present can talk.  What we really like about this process is that area businesses and residents can have meaningful input.  The studio will continue into summer.  There will be meetings every other week for six months.  EINPC also has a committee steering and guiding this process.  Mark McFadden and Trudy Younger are co-chairs of this.

Organizational and process issues (Rebecca Krantz)

  • Covered roles of people in the studio.  Todd McGrath and Tim Anderson will represent the developer.  They will listen, get input, and bring preliminary drawings as process evolves.  City staff includes Mark Olinger and Archie Nicolette.  A City staff team will be assigned to the project.  Noel Anderson, a former GIS consultant for Rayovac, is interested in volunteering his time for this project to help with maps.  There is a distinction between studio people (stakeholders) and general public, but meetings will always be open to the public.  We want to make sure everyone will be able to express their concerns.  Rebecca Krantz's role: Facilitator. 

  • Ground rules for meetings were discussed.  We reviewed handout and asked for comments.  There were no suggestions.  This studio will be "self-organizing," that is it will decide on roles within the group.

  • Scheduling meetings were discussed.  How many people on the EINPC Union Corners email list?  About 60% raised their hands.  Discussed question of whether meeting day would be Monday or Wednesday, and where the meetings would take place.  Deacon Wayne could check Greek Orthodox Church. Another suggestion: The Hawthorne Library.  But that space is open only on Tuesdays or Thursdays.  Salvation Army is doable.  Concluded by setting the next meeting at Salvation Army.  After first of year, however, the regular meeting time and location could switch to Mondays at Holy Cross (Lutheran church directly across Milwaukee street).

  • Scheduling tour of area Saturday, November 22 @ 9am and Saturday, November 8 @ 1pm.  The tours would take about 1.5 hours.  Meeting place will be in front of the closed Kohl's grocery store. 

  • Proposed timeline for discussions and public meetings (Mark McFadden)

  • The timeline for the studio meetings was discussed.  Mark showed a timeline diagram covering the six months of the studio duration.  It showed studio meetings, public meetings and broad topics of discussion.

  • The studio is taking place in the context of other preparatory work on the project.  This parallel work includes an environmental remediation process.  This will require DNR approval.  Also, at the same time the developer is engaged in financing the project and lining up potential tenants and businesses to be involved in the project.  This work is already started, and it is a process that takes time.  One part of this process is work on market feasibility studies.  In addition, the developer is looking at questions like how stormwater could be managed.  Todd has added an engineer to his team recently.  This will inform our discussion layout of streets.  Another thing the developer is doing in parallel is preliminary architectural thinking. 

  • This is an interesting and iterative process that goes on in parallel with the studio.  The studio process also works with City staff.  In the studio, instead of acting as regulators City staff will act as people who can give input.  We don't want to get to regulatory roadblock. 

  • The timeline shows several dates for large public meetings during the six-month studio.  The idea of the large public meetings is to provide outreach.  The timeline also shows some broad, proposed topics of discussion.  The idea is to not devote a particular studio meeting to a particular topic.  But one of the things realized is that there are some questions that need to be answered before other questions are answered.  In Mark's opinion some of the thorniest problems are what happens around the site: Traffic, pedestrian access, Winnebego Street, Milwaukee Street, and the relationship of triangle area south of site.  These are "boundary issues," not just transportation, but connections to nearby neighborhoods.  This is an important corner for the East Isthmus.  Mark proposed that the studio first look at the broad topic of transport and access in the November and December studio meetings.  Next, the studio would then discuss how the internal shape of site might work.  Then studio would take ideas up to this point back to a larger public in one of the large public meetings to be scheduled.  The idea is to check with neighbors. 

  • The studio would then move on to the broad topic of internal organization of site, i.e., land use, density, design and scale issues.  Then there would be another public meeting. 

  • Todd wants to submit paperwork to the City (an important milestone in the development process) in the summer of 2004.  This gives us timescale of six months.  After this point, many City committees will review the development.  This paperwork includes a GDP (general development plan) and an SIP (specific implementation plan).  In summary, the studio will work on a collaborative basis with the developer and City staff.  In addition, to make sure neighborhoods are connected with what we are doing, we will have large public meetings (3) at waypoints in the process.

  • Sarah Kraus: Is blue border actual border of project?  Todd: Clarified development site boundaries.  Also wanted to respond to Mark by saying that feedback is important to design, but most important is to understand what the market processes are.  These affect retail mix and housing.  

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Overview of existing plans

  • Quickly reviewed major points of existing plans affecting the site.  These were summarized on a handout.  Joe Krupp: I'm curious that you didn't mention SASY Business District plan, because it includes specific recommendations on transportation linkages.  Response: Agree that this is relevant; a summary of this was included on the handout. 

  • Archie Nicoletti: The other big plan is the East Washington Avenue reconstruction.  This includes a major change to the Milwaukee/North intersection.  The City will buy out gas station and make the corner more efficient for pedestrians to cross.  It will change the dynamics of the whole corner.  This plan responded to the biggest complaint that people could not turn on Milwaukee Street.  The other big improvement is that Milwaukee Street will be turned so that it will be perpendicular to East Washington.  That will make it an easier pedestrian crossing and an easier turn for cars.  Question: If you move Milwaukee Street up. Red Letter News-What are City's intentions?  Rebecca: This project will affect Red Letter News.  Todd: In general, if you look at the Kohls/Rayovac site, and once that changes, it will affect Red Letter News.  The most important thing people are asking for is a grocery store.  Question: After reconstruction, will Milwaukee Street meet North Street?  Archie: Yes.  Todd: I suggest we invite HNTB (consultant for the East Washington Avenue reconstruction).   Nancy Dungan: Decisions on East Washington are done, so this group could focus on other areas.  Archie: Agreed, and noted that the City adopted the plan.  It will be built in five phases over nine years.  There could be little adjustments, but generally speaking the plan is adopted.  This phase is scheduled to be built in 2007.   Mark Olinger: There is not much room for negotiation on the East Washington/Milwaukee intersection.  But questions like how Winnebago intersects East Washington, and what to do with Sixth Street at East Washington, can be revisited.   

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Initial discussion of transportation and access to the site

  • Mark: The last meeting had a lot of comments on Todd's conceptual plan including closing off a piece of Division Street, a new street to connect to Fifth and opening up Sixth.  Winnebago would not be blocked off, but it would tee into East Washington.  Leah: How would you access the site from Seventh Street?  Archie: Generally the idea is to take traffic from the neighborhood to the larger streets.  Madison has a lot of obstacles, has moved away from a grid pattern.  Jen Voichick: Could Ohio Avenue be opened to the site?  Todd: Would consider pedestrian crossing of the railroad track only, but want to get these ideas from neighbors.  Judy Ferre: Parking on Farwell a problem, lots of rental.  Where will people park?  Todd: The project would provide parking for itself.  Leslie Christopherson: Considering access to the site westbound on East Washington - yes, it is the first big corner you see, but would much rather cater to people rather than auto access.  It is one thing to have site beckon to autos, another to beckon to people, neighborhoods.  Mike: (Seconding and adding to Leslie's point) it seems East Washington forms a boundary, and it looks like activity of site would want to face inward.  Also, want to avoid the large, blank walls of commercial buildings facing East Washington; the spaces behind these buildings are quite dead.  John: Why not access site from across Sullivan Street?  Eric Schramm: Concerned about street connecting to Fifth.  This could encourage cut through on LaFollete to Atwood.  Todd: Tim Anderson's interest was to extend green space in front of French Battery building.  Trudy: If looking to attract pedestrians, you don't need that new street.  Jen: (Seconding Eric' point) there is plenty of traffic on the narrow streets (LaFollette, Division, and surrounding); don't need anymore traffic; need to avoid cut-throughs; would like have development access to East Washington or Winnebago.  Bob Neville (on Division): If you cut off Division, you will need a new way of access.  Beverly: How are you going to get people in neighborhood out?  Leslie _____: It would be nice to have analysis of traffic flows.  Question relating to sketch plan.  Todd: This was just an attempt to begin organizing the site to promote discussion.  Its main ideas were to change the use of Winnebego as a merge lane onto East Washington because this conflicts with traffic turning.  Also, wanted to extend Sullivan Street, returning to the grid pattern that existed on the site before the plant, and to redevelop block faces.  Barb Irvin: The problem with the new street is it's in a direct line across from Fifth, encouraging cut throughs onto LaFollette.  If you leave the existing, which requires turns to get into the neighborhood, cut-throughs would be discouraged.  Eric: Imagine cut throughs through the site and neighborhood.  Trudy: Worried about dead end; semis making deliveries would need to cut through site on Sullivan.  Ron Schutz: On convergence of Division and LaFollete - this is a steep hill, currently unsafe turn; historically this had been a fire engine corridor.  Bob Mayville: Most cars are going down East Washington, not Winnebago. 

  • Archie showed traffic count map.  Daily traffic counts 52,000 to 58,000 on East Washington, Winnebago 2,700.  Atwood, Johnson, Pennsylvania and Packers are the other big streets in the area.  There is a big difference between neighborhood street volumes and these big streets.  First Street 11,400; Atwood 11,750; Bypass 9,400; other side of First Street (North of East Washington) 20,700.  Part of these road changes started 25-30 years ago when the City made deals with neighborhoods.  One was to use First St., another to close Helena, close Sherman and use Fordem.  The City designed the system to get most of the traffic on East Washington.  John Nolen and Blair were also designed to divert traffic from Williamson.  Williamson numbers kept steady for many years as a result.  Traffic count maps are on the website, am and pm flows and histograms.

  • Jen Voichick: Is developer interested in promoting use of major corridors?  Todd: We are interested in providing better access to site.  Our first concern was the Winnebego problem.  Traffic doesn't get to site.  Mark Olinger: How you handle East Washington will be a big deal in this project.  Question: Should plans for commuter rail at the site be considered?   Eric Schramm: Should have City Transportation here.  Response: HNTB (the East Washington consultants) will come to the studio on November 19th.  Barb Irvin: Direction is important on streets.  Will Warlick: Suggest a traffic study of nearby streets and a wider area, to consider development impacts and opening of new streets.  Mark Olinger: We can ask them (City Traffic Engineering) to do a traffic study.  They will likely point out that the reconstruction of East Washington will in general help ease traffic on nearby neighborhood streets.  There will need to be a traffic impact study of this site. 

  • Question on French battery condos.  Question: Any idea of calendar of City rebuilding streets like Sixth and Seventh?   Could find out possibility of doing traffic schedule of street rebuilds.  A schedule is on the City Engineering web site.  Judy Olson will bring this to next meeting.  Mike Carlson: Todd suggested earlier one reason for failure of Kohls was lack of access.  Todd: Also was due to the size of site.  In 1950s the A&P there was the highest grossing A&P in the state.  Mike: Would like to suggest that part of its failure was due to its being ugly.  Archie: Also remember that the East Side Shopping Center was at edge of the City at the time.  Leslie Christopherson: Want to make a philosophical comment on closing Winnebago; we should to some measure be accepting of what is.  Leslie ______:  Request map showing density of residential development around the site; also basic background information; also, because a parking crunch around area was, mentioned, some data showing where there is difficulty with street parking; also baseline data needed; timelines of known changes, surface traffic projects; fossil fuel production.  Eric Schramm: PDF files on the website are so huge they don't download.  Mark Olinger: We are trying to figure out how to do it.  Information will be in a hard copy packet at Hawthorne library.  Sarah Kress will take charge of this packet of data.

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October 23, 2003

Those present (in order around the table): Archie Nicolette, Mark Olinger, Todd McGrath, Tim Anderson, George Josheff, Trudy Younger, John Martens, Peter Wolff, Will Warlick, John Koch, Michael Carlson (notes), Kay Yandell, Chris Odt, Karen Faster, Dan Melton, Eric Schramm, John Steines, Marilyn Niebuhr, Diane Calhoun, Mike Barrett, Noel Anderson, Jim Wold, Judy Olson, Barb Irvin, and Doug Johnson.

Later arrivals: Susan Agee, Leslie Grossberg, Judy Kingsbury, Xanadu Scheuers, and Beverly Scheuers

Meeting chair: Mark McFadden, EINPC Facilitator: Rebecca Krantz

Important Information:

  • The next general meeting of the EINPC Advisory Committee will be held on November 3, 6:30-8:00p.m, Location TBA. Applications to participate in the design studio are due by November 4.  Next meeting of the planning Studio will be Nov. 5th, United Way Anderson Center, 2059 Atwood Ave.

  • All future meetings of the Union Corners redesign project are open to any neighbors that wish to participate. Meetings will be of two types: 1) General meetings held periodically both to inform the neighborhood regarding the project's progress, and to gather any concerns, ideas, or inspirations shared by those who attend; 2) Planning Studio sessions intended to focus intensively on the actual design of the land, such that the design reflects the interests, concerns, and desires of the neighbors as expressed in the general meetings.

  • Overview of the planning process: Mark M. handed out and reviewed the document "Union Corners Planning Process".  

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Open question session:

  • Jim W. opened with his concern that, given the frequency of the various meetings, 'meeting junkies' might enjoy disproportionate representation, such that meetings become 'hijacked by high-powered interest groups' that 'make decisions without regard to reality.' Mark McFadden answered his concern by stating that ultimately, decision-making will be in the hands of those providing the project capital.

  • Karen F. asked whether Studio representatives will be drawn from the neighborhoods, or neighborhood association councils. Mark McFadden replied that the Studio would reflect the vision of those affected by the redesign project. Karen suggested that representation be bound by geography.

  • Michael C. asked whether 'economic feasibility' was defined as 'the highest return on the capital investment.' Todd McGrath responded that that was not the case, but that 'feasibility' meant that the project as conceived by those involved, could actually be carried out given available money.

  • Eric S. noted that the unioncorners.org website has no recent updates. It appears the lack of updates owes to staffing problems, not intent. City staff committed to more frequent updates in the future, and EINPC board & staff committed to following up to make sure this happens.

  • Rebecca K. emphasized that the design process now undertaken by the neighborhood is both new and amendable.

  • Eric S. asked whether the ad hoc Union Corners committee would dissolve upon the arrival of the Planning Studio. His question led to a conversation regarding the separation of administration and design.

  • Jim W. offered that 'folks have limited energy,' and suggested that the ad hoc committee remain in session to resolve administrative issues.

  • Michael C. asked for clarification regarding the relationship between the ad hoc committee and the neighborhood design group. Mark McFadden replied that the ad hoc committee was created in July, so to decide how the redesign of the Rayovac plant ought to proceed. That committee is in fact a subcommittee of the East Isthmus Neighborhoods Planning Council; it exists separately from the Design Studio; and it faces one last task: to create and administer the decision-making process. The ad hoc committee will meet one more time; thereafter, they will meet only when called upon.

  • Mark and Rebecca handed out the document 'Union Corners Planning Area Meeting Comments', a summary of public comments from two large meetings in September, and invited additions to this list.

  • Jim W. wondered how the land was zoned. Todd McGrath answered that it was zoned as 'M1' and 'C1.' He will be requesting a Planned Unit Development (PUD).

  • Karen F. asked how wide the streets would be. [The note taker did not record the response. He believes the reply was, that such decisions will be answered by the Planning Studio.]

  • Mike B. would like to add 'Play' to the list of categories that will find expression in the land. Others responded that 'Play' has already been expressed through the category 'Recreation.'

  • Leslie G. urged that the Design Studio focus on design constraints, such as building height, aesthetic and neighborhood context, and energy utilization. He also requested that the land provide 'social amenities.'

  • Michael C. suggested that the Design Studio concept seems premised on the idea of one master, 'large lump' design that, even if built in phases, is conceived all at once, regardless of how design choices play out over time. He suggested as an alternative a piecemeal, incremental design process that shapes the land over time, such that each new structure responds to the landscape as it evolves through time. Such a process, with beautiful results, is fully attainable with the help of Christopher Alexander's Pattern Language.

  •  Will W. asked how the development would impact traffic and street patterns.

  •  Jim O. asked when E. Washington reconstruction would begin, and how that reconstruction might integrate with Union Corners. He was informed that reconstruction of this section is targeted to begin in 2007.

  • Tim A. wondered where lay the boundaries of the planning area. [The note taker believes he was referred to the map of the Union Corners redesign area.]

  • [The note taker missed, with great apology, a question forwarded by Kay Y.] [EINPC facilitator: It was probably the comment about the need for maps to work with during the planning process].

  •  Leslie wants to revisit the nature of street design. He insists that people be accorded more precedence than automobiles.

  • Will asked whether bus routes might integrate with the site, and where those stops would be located.

  • Someone raised the issue of the rail line as a boundary & a challenge.

  • Leslie spoke regarding 'real life difficulties,' but the note taker failed to capture more of his idea.

  • Dan M. suggested that Lego models be constructed and evaluated by the immediate neighbors, to decide the impact of building height. He urged the group to think about connections between points, and finding common ground among neighbors. In other words, a given design decision, while personally appealing, may negatively affect a neighbor.

  • Mike B. agreed with Dan, and suggested the Studio ought to look to previous neighborhood design plans, as created by the neighborhood itself, for inspiration and guidance.

  • Eric S. emphasized again the need to survey the neighbors.

  • Michael C. believes that the real goal of the design group is to heal the site, and, more importantly, 'Heal the site!' as an imperative can be used as a rule or basis underlying every design decision.  In other words, every good design decision will positively answer the question, 'Does this heal, or make more whole, this piece of land?'

  • Doug J. suggested that structures be built of green materials.  

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Scheduling of upcoming sessions & sequence of topics:

  • Mark O. suggested that a design charrete is a powerful tool for community land design. Although previous Meeting Comments (as listed on in the document 'Union Corners Planning Area Meeting Comments) have been categorized, he sees a real disadvantage to separating one design element from another, as the elements must exist, not in isolation, but in combination with each other. While the categories are useful conceptual tools, and will be discussed in the Design Studio, much work must be done on site. The November 5 Studio meeting will cover basic information regarding the site. Notices of the meeting will be sent out.

  • Leslie said he would like the information to be covered at the Nov. 5 meeting, to be handed out previous to that meeting, so folks might evaluate it, raise questions, etc.

  • Michael C. noticed that when we place a couch in a room, or a picture on a wall, we do not - indeed, cannot - pull out a blueprint of the house, and from the blueprint, make any meaningful design solutions. Instead, we go into the space, move the picture a little up, or a little to the right, and so on, until it feels just right. These feelings and intuitions are real, powerful, and can be used likewise to decide the best placement of structures in the built landscape. To design from maps is like trying to place a picture from a blueprint; therefore, the Design Studio ought to enter into the space and spend as much time as possible designing on site.

  • Marilyn urged the Studio to get to site soon, as winter is imminent, and will make site visits difficult for many.

  • Todd McGrath reckons groundbreaking a year from now.

  • Rebecca K. spoke, but the note taker failed to catch her statement.

  • Eric S. wondered if any railroad representatives were involved in the process.

  • Peter W. mentioned that even 'narrowly defined' interests will seek involvement in the project. The process ought to be allowed to unfold, and the list of participants ought to be fluid, so folks might participate when particularly interested.

  • Jim W. suggested that each Studio meeting ought to be devoted to a specific topic, while another block of time be allocated to integration of one topic to the next, so that the process might be more holistic. Advance notice of each meeting's topic must be given, so those interested in attending can plan ahead.

  • Archie N. argued that proposing a specific topic per se creates its own difficulties, as the effects resulting from a decision pertaining to any one topic, are systemic.

  • John (?) agreed, claiming that too rigid an organization would block the flow of the Studio group's work.

  • Jim W. wondered about the relationship of the development team to the Studio.

  • Noel A. argued that flow diagrams that delineate the process are necessary to the idea of 'process' itself.

  • Todd McGrath said that conceptual ideas regarding the development would soon be presented; the project still lacks an organizing kernel.

  • Rebecca suggested that the EINPC would work to further clarify the process before the next meeting.

Meeting adjourned.

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September 24th & 29th, 2003

LAND USE

Housing

  • I want to register my support for truly affordable housing, both rental and owner-occupied to people at a diversity of incomes, including below 60% CMI and as low as 30% CMI is critical. Housing development in this neighborhood should match the existing scale that we have now.

  • Ideas: "Artists Colony" / Co-housing.

  • No more condos in the Rayovac area!!!

  • Please stress to make housing affordable. Single income families ($30-40,000 net income) like me so one parent can stay home.

  • Please, no more high-priced condos! I like that I can afford this neighborhood right now (though this seems to be changing).

  • Apartments at Union Corners? Wow! Lots of sirens at night-added noise with traffic.

  • I'd like to be involved in any condominium housing discussion groups.

  • Mixed-use idea-retail below/housing above-I like that idea-AFFORDABLE HOUSING!!!

  • What kind of housing - condos, apartments, Section 8, elderly?

  • Affordable housing - under 60% of median income for county is better, otherwise too expensive.

  • Glut of apartments is possible; new apartments on Atwood now. A: We're interested in doing something big to make an impact on this blighted area - first wave we hope to be owner-occupied.

  • We need to look into under 60% - low-income housing.

  • Make sure that there is underground parking.

  • Concerned about affect in property value-current residences (Jackson St.)

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Commercial

  • Retail desires: Smaller locally owned businesses (no chain restaurants), locally owned restaurants, hardware store, Post Office, grocery store (like Jennifer Street or Co-op), Bagel/bakery-sit down coffee shop-NO DRIVE THROUGH type business. mixed-use idea-retail below/housing above-I like that idea-AFFORDABLE HOUSING!!!

  • Central Square concept - Gathering place - post office, seating areas, coffee.

  • Ideas . . . central square concept-green space and seating area-maybe fountain in center with retail surrounding-smaller scale buildings-no big boxes!

  • Would like: Coffee shop, other QUALITY shops, no more fast food!!! ..Get rid of Red Letter News!

  • If this area is going to be a showplace coming into Madison what are the plans for the Red Letter News corner?

  • Get rid of Red Letter News.

  • Entrance to city should be beautiful: Get rid of Red Letter News, widen corner

  • Buy RLN building if possible

  • The new development will have an impact on RLN in any case

  • Status of Radiator property? It's an eyesore.

  • We need a food store in the area.

  • Get a grocery store/food store of some kind.

  • Very concerned that a grocery store becomes part of the plan. I'm willing to pay more at a local grocery that I can walk to, rather than be dependent on driving to Woodman's or Cub, etc.

  • A grocery store is essential (as you know). Opt for many smaller retail st ores rather than a large, multiple use stores (i.e., not a grocery store/video store/liquor store/bank outlet combo).

  • Definitely NEED a grocery store!!! Butcher/seafood?

  • I would like a small to mid-size grocery store at Union Corners. We miss Kohl' s. A store the size of Jenifer Street Market or a food co-op.

  • Put smaller grocery store in existing Kohl's building.

  • I don't drive (Never have-don't know how). I have lived in this neighborhood 60+ years! When are we going to have a neighborhood grocery store? We have always had a grocery store! Put the grocery store in existing building ASAP.

  • Want full-size grocery

  • Ask some of the local businesses to stay and build them into the plan, for example gym, restaurant, grocery store and other like retail shops. Make them look like they were already there.

  • Build Ford's Gym a new building - if he had better designed space he could serve a lot more of the area's residents.

  • Please keep the Ford's Gym area!

  • What'll happen to existing small businesses, e.g. Trudy's?

  • Please, no more ugly strip malls. Please make the commercial development tasteful. Please, don't sanitize this neighborhood-I like the eclecticism, even though I don't patronize places like Woody Anne's, Ford's Gym, even the radiator shop. I am also concerned that the proposed retail space may cater to high-end vendors-we already have Monroe Street, which is for tourists, essentially. We don't need Oriental rug shops in this neighborhood.

  • Radiator shop is not "an eyesore" in my opinion. I agree, absolutely, with comment let's be careful about "sanitizing" the funk-interest out of the neighborhood-the reason we live here in the first place.

  • Can you build us a nice commercial space in character of our neighborhood? We don't need high-end stores, but want to stay in neighborhood to shop. A: We're interested in listening to what you want.

  • Don't want to sanitize neighborhood. Too much talk of removing RLN/Radiator shop.

  • No chain stores at all-no fast food, no Starbucks.

  • Lots of Fast-Food, etc. Concerned that Union Corners not become more of the same.

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Open Space

  • More green space like a park.

  • Central Square concept - Gathering place - post office, seating areas, coffee.

  • Ideas . . . central square concept-green space and seating area-maybe fountain in center with retail surrounding-smaller scale buildings-no big boxes!

  • Green space

  • I support preserving public green space (i.e., a small park on the site).

  • Have park space-playground and community garden space at Union Corners.

  • It is very important that some space be dedicated and acquired by the City as open community space, i.e. City Park.

  • Open spaces, park, "town square" would be a welcome addition.

  • Perhaps the safest use of the challenged Rayovac property is PARK.

  • Recreation plans for the area? Pool, Skate park would be nice. Kids at East HS.

  • Once-in-lifetime opportunity to set aside land for needed open space. A: All options are on the table.

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TRANSPORTATION

Traffic & Circulation

  • Sixth Street extension - I think it would be fine to extend the street but only if there is not access across East Washington Avenue from the existing North Sixth Street (for a right turn only, as it is now). We have speeding problems already (the current East Washington Avenue plan closes the outbound left turn access to Sixth and I support that).

  • No thru traffic on Sixth-there are already problems; you would create more problems, more accidents.

  • Sixth street will need to be protected from cut-through traffic.

  • Please take consideration regarding traffic slowing on Sixth Street (especially at Johnson/Sixth and Dayton/Sixth)-maybe landscaping in intersection.

  • Now have issues with cut through between East Washington, Sixth Street and Johnson Street. Very busy street already and near Emerson and East High-Don't want to encourage more traffic on Sixth Street.

  • Sixth Street. If we're going to talk about extending Sixth Street-through the audio-visual parking lot, we owe it to Sixth Street. Seventh Street neighbors in East neighborhood to talk at same time about how to control-calm traffic on east side.

  • Sixth street extension will create new neighborhood short-cut down Division. Must set up the right mix.

  • Division Street closure - great idea!

  • Stop signs, round-abouts or other traffic calming on Lafollette will be critical.

  • LaFollette/Waubesa traffic.

  • Try to reduce traffic on residential streets Oak and Union (cut through traffic) all on a left turn going west on East Washington @ Milwaukee-East Washington intersection. This would decrease traffic on Oak Street. The Oak Street area has many young children and it makes sense to keep the majority of the traffic on East Washington/Milwaukee. Cars going west on East Washington turn left on Oak to get to Milwaukee.

  • You're proposing a new street at east side of site - won't this create access/congestion problems on Milwaukee?

  • We need a left hand turn off East Washington onto Milwaukee Street-at Union Corners, of incoming traffic going to square.

  • Too much traffic on Oak Street-a residential street, neighborhood.

  • Seems to me cars trying to exit the McGrath project onto Milwaukee Street are going to have a real problem.

  • Are efforts being made to control or restrict traffic on East Washington and Milwaukee?

  • Sixth St. - effects opening this up would have on 6th & 7th street residents. Keep that in mind always. No "extension to Packers" - not a thoroughfare.

  • Two-way Winnebago - again, keep residents happy when making decisions, folks on Merry & Buell.

  • Winnebago IS pedestrian friendly.

  • Concern: Increase in through traffic, both quantity and speed (Jackson St.)

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Pedestrians/Bikes

  • Bike trail, pedestrian access/walkways.

  • Very excited about a Starkweather Creek Bike Trail-let's get this going soon.

  • Would like to see bike trail.

  • I don't think making a street pedestrian and bike friendly equals closing it off to arterials.

  • Walking, biking, bus stops, should not be an afterthought.

  • Safe access across Milwaukee Street and East Washington Avenue to site. Overpass walkway would be great.

Transit

  • Would like to see commuter rail line.

  • Any contact of developers with Madison Metro, rail folks, etc.

  • Long-term parking a possibility at a commuter rail stop

  • Is this the high speed rail route? If so what are the implications for the project?

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URBAN DESIGN

  • Since this is such a large project and to fit into the "funkiness" of the area, different architectural styles should be used - consider using a number of different architects, even within each type of use. Too many new developments are way too homogeneous to fit into an old neighborhood.

  • Make the buildings look more like the area. No glass!!! No metal, more like the area. The glass buildings on the square don't fit in.

  • Smaller scale buildings-no big boxes!

  • Height of buildings planned?

  • Entrance to city should be beautiful: Get rid of Red Letter News, widen corner

COMMUNITY SERVICES

  • Which elementary school is this in, and does that school have the capacity for expansion? A: Emerson is closest, but planning process will take school into consideration.

  • COMMUNITY CENTER

ENVIRONMENTAL

  • My concern is water run-off. When it rains hard the water at 6th and East Washington gets as high as a semi-truck's tire. It floods across my terrace and lawn all the way up to my front steps. Anything you do to stop run-off will be appreciated. Also, landscape to stop tire noise on East Washington Avenue and Winnebago Street.

  • Stormwater Management - an opportunity to build with no run-off - potentially good soils, with big site opportunity to do a quality job. Consult with UW folks: Ken Potter - Civil Engineering -kwpotter@wisc.edu/UW-Madison Retrofitting (lots if infrastructure giving engineering firms experience / Roger Bannerman - WI DNR / Friends of Starkweather Creek - John Steines, Maria Powell, Ken Genskow,kgenskow@wisc.edu

  • Reduce water runoff-nonpermeable surface. Keep rainwater at site to retain ground material and reduce pollution to our lakes.

  • Please check on the pre-existing and ground water wells to check on leakage from site. DNR mentioned these wells. Monitor during removal of waste so that we know if the battery waste is harming ground water now and when it is disturbed/removed and keep wells monitored in the future.

  • Does the known residual contamination of the Rayovac property represent an actual, or potential, threat to the aquifers used as local sources of drinking water?

  • Does the clean up of the known lead waste contamination at the Rayovac site have a potential to create a lead dust contamination, or threat thereof, to adjoining or nearby properties?

  • Many, many questions about battery waste cleanup-will follow up with Rayovac's Tim Andersen.

  • Was the greater Rayovac property once being considered for inclusion as a super-fund site? Are there potential hazardous substances that might be exposed during excavation of the fill at the site? (Up to six-foot depth at some points). Who has access to the boring tests and what has been tested for? What is the base plan for run-off from the site?

  • Is there still an air monitoring canister at a house on Farwell?

  • Concerned about increase in E. Wash traffic noise, which Rayovac currently blocks (Jackson St.)

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PUBLIC INPUT/DECISION-MAKING PROCESS

  • Thank you and keep the info flowing.

  • The original meeting seemed to be too much Rayovac. They will be gone. Let's hear more on Kohl's closing and a possible replacement. Our Mayor wants more parks. We can't maintain those we now have. I am 92, so next meeting I will probably come closer to the front. My hearing may be failing. I've been a 2409 resident since 1946.

  • I would like to see a design charrette used to capture public values and vision and translate them into design. I'm concerned that a big-little studio process will become too drawn out, and will limit citizen input to comments in a large group format. A charrette (or call it a design workshop) allows a more intensive - short time period - way to engage people in small group formats to capture the value of back and forth discussion, ensuring full participation by all in our iterative design development process. This would go a long way towards generating design consensus efficiently and effectively.

  • Who, ultimately, will make the decisions about the land? If in the end the developer doesn't like what has been come up with can they go ahead with something else? What role will residents play and what role will the Planning Council play? How can people get involved with the small group studio projects?

  • Individual notification of nearby folks - keep it up!

  • Is it better, or just easier, for the City to deal with 1 developer on such a large project? McGrath "talked" to the High Noon Developers and the project went away. McGrath "talked" to the Kohl's owner and the property hasn't gone on the market. The area does not have to be redeveloped all at once and by one person/company in order for Union Corners to be a great place. McGrath needs to commit to a plan, and identify all businesses and residents that will be displaced.

  • This meeting was a terrible start we got talked at and weren't able to speak. Very bad precedent.

  • Supplement studio input process with other opportunities to share, charettes, get sense of shared values, visions & build from that.

  • Glad you (developer) are here, open; go out to area residents, talk to people about desires & needs for the site, do tours of site with area residents. Use process & patterns from Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language

  • Encourage City staff, others, to examine appropriateness of one landowner owning a whole large chunk like this.

  • Notice to residents before eviction?? Renters and owners should be notified.

  • Eminent domain - don't do it!

  • Are you asking for approval or input? A: too early for approval

  • Make all overheads from McGrath, etc. available on website

  • What's the timeline? A: neighborhood process/planning process/municipal approvals will take a year. I appreciate feedback on traffic issues from those who know.

  • (Great job EINPC! I'm a proud alumnus.)

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OTHER

  • Q: Are you attempting to acquire additional property in the area? A: We have talked to some adjacent property owners.

  • I'm concerned that this project not spill out beyond the Rayovac (and Kohl's) property. If an official development is planned, I would hope that no affordable living, working or commercial space be lost, as usually happens with too-large projects. Otherwise, I'd love to see more opportunities for diverse use.

  • It would be fantastic if this development can include the triangle of land between East Washington and Winnebago to Sixth Street. That is an unsightly stretch and being redeveloped with Rayovac can only be positive.

  • What is going on in Rayovac's parking lot?

  • This is so very exciting for the neighborhood. Thank you!

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