Plans for a new University of Wisconsin health clinic are being reworked after a salty reception from officials who claim the original plan offered too much parking and not enough public space.
Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, said the initial phase of the plan includes a UW health clinic, and future stages may include a grocery store, housing, retail space and a potential relocation of Hawthorne Library.
Gorman and Company, which is in charge of the redevelopment at East Washington Avenue and Milwaukee Street, plans to swap the original surface parking structure plan with the installation of a structured lot, Rummel said. The possibility of elevating the height of commercial buildings to six floors from four is also being considered as a method for increasing the density of the complex, Rummel said.
Lisa Brunette, UW Health Marketing Affairs spokesperson, said there are many reasons for adding a new clinic to this developing area.
“The proposed clinic at Union Corners would replace the current East Towne Clinic which opened more than 30 years ago and is an extremely busy primary-care site,” Brunette said. “We need a site that will support efficient work flows and expected continuing increases in demand. And the fact that the Union Corners site is closer to downtown is attractive to us as well.”
Brunette said as currently planned, the Union Corners clinic would offer urgent care, primary care, gen X-Ray, health education, obstetrics, mammography and physical therapy. She said they are expanding adult medicine primary care, doubling the space due to the aging population.
Ald. Larry Palm, District 12, said he was optimistic yet cautious upon hearing the possibility of the proposed changes. Palm said he was surprised Gorman and Company proposed the lower-density plan originally presented.
“I strongly support aggressive density and redevelopment of the site,” Palm said. “I would not accept anything less.”
Palm said Gorman and Company underestimated what features residents wanted in the complex during the last proposal, such as higher density, taller buildings and fewer parking spaces.
Palm said one of the primary changes in the plan he and other supporters would like to see is locating taller buildings closer to East Washington Avenue and farther from the existing houses in the neighborhood, which is the exact opposite of the original proposal.
“The shortest building was at the corner of East Washington and Milwaukee, while the tallest building was right up against houses,” Palm said. “That is unacceptable as well.”
Rummel said there will be a larger neighborhood meeting on March 1, and an official submission from the developers on March 15.
Rummel said the developers are refining the project according to feedback from the city. She added that the developing company has been more attentive to the desires of the neighborhood and the Urban Design Commission.
“It’s not on top of somebody where 28 feet away you’re going to take away their views,” Rummel said. “There’s a lot of breathing room there to do some good city building. So our goal is to do some good city building.”
Alex Arriaga contributed to this article.