Carbon at Union Corners

A rendering shows plans for a mixed-use development called Carbon at Union Corners.

An affordable housing project in the Union Corners development is scheduled for a ceremonial groundbreaking on Wednesday.

Of the 90 apartment units in the Carbon at Union Corners project, 76 are designated for families making between 30 percent and 60 percent of Dane County's median income.

Carbon, the second phase of the Union Corners project to start construction — work continues on a new UW Health clinic at the site — is a public/private partnership between Gorman & Co., the city of Madison, Dane County and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.

Plans for the project on the 2500 block of Winnebago Street call for two four-story buildings with an outdoor courtyard and underground parking. The first floors feature 18,000 square feet of retail space.

Construction on Carbon — the name is a nod to the major component of the Rayovac batteries once assembled at the site — is scheduled to be completed in June 2017.

The project was awarded $850,000 in WHEDA low-income housing tax credits in 2015 and $1.75 million from Madison's Affordable Housing Initiative Fund in 2014. Dane County contributed $554,000 last October.

Low vacancy rates for Madison rental housing have contributed to a shortage of affordable housing. The city has committed more than $20 million over a five-year period to help finance new housing developments.

Residents in surrounding neighborhoods made it clear in early Union Corners planning meetings that affordable housing needed to be a top priority in the development, said Ted Matkom, Wisconsin market president for Gorman & Co.

"They wanted housing and retail that was servicing their needs, not upscale dollars of people coming in from other neighborhoods," he said.

The retail space is planned for local uses, like a bike shop, bakery or fitness studio, Matkom said.

Future phases of the Union Corners project include a five-story mixed-use building with a grocery store and apartments that's scheduled for a spring 2017 start as well as a cohousing project.

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Todd D. Milewski covers Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey and the UW Athletic Department for the Wisconsin State Journal.