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A decade in the making, Union Corners celebrates grand opening

A decade of development finally came to a close as Union Corners made its grand debut Wednesday.

Developers Gorman & Company were joined by Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and other local leaders at the intersection of E. Washington Ave., Winnebago St., and Milwaukee St. on Madison’s east side, celebrated completion of the decade-long development. The space is a mixed-use property with market rate and affordable housing, art, shops and a UW Health Clinic. The development has been a decade long project from Gorman & Company.

The community came out to celebrate the development’s completion, tour the space and hear about the history of the area. Speakers addressed the community as to the efforts behind getting Union Corners built.

Photo courtesy Gorman & Co.

“This is an amazing statistic, and we’re not exaggerating this, every apartment at Union Corners is full,” Ted Matkom, Wisconsin Market President of Gorman & Company, said. “I don’t know if you should clap for me, but it’s a show of the need of what we’re doing.”

The need for housing has been an issue for Madison and Union Corners contains 132 affordable housing and 123 market rate units. The development was done in phases which allowed for the units to be occupied before the entire property was done.

The crowning achievement of Union Corners, and what Gary Gorman, founder and current chairman of the board of directors, was most excited about, was the creation of a space that promotes new urbanism. The term pushes the idea of a walkable community where residents can work, live, shop and socialize in an area with low commute times.

Photo by Omar Waheed.

“We have built over $2 billion of projects in 12 states. This is the one I’m most proud of,” Gary said. “One because it’s a multifaceted, multiphase project that addresses multiple things to create a focal point in the neighborhood that didn’t exist.”

The plot of land that Union Corners was built on was attempted to be developed in the past. After a failed attempt, the city allowed Gorman & Company to work on the project and purchase the 13-acre plot of land for $3.5 million. Union Corners’ development has seen three mayors in office since its start, but the project holds a special place in the current Mayor’s heart.

Mayor Rhodes-Conway met her partner, Amy Klusmeier, there before she was in office.

“This event brought up a lot of memories from me and I appreciate being able to share them with you. It took a long time to get here, but it was worth it,” Mayor Rhodes-Conway said. “It just gives you hope when you know that you can create a mixed-use, mixed income neighborhood.”

The history of the place is another aspect that Gorman & Company wanted to keep in mind in Union Corners’ development. The art installations around the property are meant to acknowledge and respect the area’s past being a Union camp during the Civil War and later a French battery factory that provided batteries for WWII soldiers. The crowning installation is a gold union soldier statue. When Gorman requested the installation, they wanted the statue to convey the pain and remorse in the eyes of the soldier.