Redeveloping vacant, industrial sites can be challenging and costly. But with the right approach these parcels can become community gems. In urban locations, infill sites are often environmentally contaminated needing costly clean-up, timely adherence to a host of regulations, and resident engagement. Developing innovative, well-designed solutions to these issues can be one of the most attractive parts of infill redevelopment.
Union Corners, near downtown Madison, WI, has been a big blot on the landscape since the close of the once-thriving French Battery Co factory 40 years ago. The city bought this abandoned, 11.5 acre property for $3.3 million and since then neighborhood groups have met regularly to discuss the site’s revitalization, and urban designers have proposed numerous plans.
WRT’s Garlen Capita and Ayako Okutani, along with Sheila Hakimpour of Urban Diversity Design developed a proposal that leverages the site’s strategic location, history, surrounding land uses with transit and pedestrian connections. The plan “Redefining the Core” offers a diverse program of mixed-use, transit-oriented development integrated with open space amenities. The plan invites artists, seniors, young singles, families, co-housing residents, and neighbors to participate in group fun, such as live performances, a farmers’ market, art festivals, and urban gardening.