When the Congress for the New Urbanism holds its annual conference in Madison June 1-4, it hopes to leave its mark on one of the city's biggest eyesores: Union Corners.
The blighted 11.5-acre parcel on East Washington Avenue at Milwaukee Street is the largest undeveloped piece of land in the central city. A number of plans have been developed for it, hoping to spur redevelopment of the area, but none have been realized. Last fall, the city bought the property for $3.3 million.
Organizers for the New Urbanism confab are hosting a contest to come up with ideas for the site. The winning entry won't necessarily get constructed. But Bill Fruhling, an urban planner with the city, says it will give the community "something to chew on."
The group, says Fruhling, is "trying to have something creative. But a big focus is to have something [doable] that works on the scale of what's there and ties into the existing fabric of the neighborhoods."
The Congress opened the competition up to anyone, including students, hoping to spur a variety of ideas. Fruhling suspects there will be bits and pieces of different plans that could be implemented.
"We want to see something great happen there," he says. "It's a great opportunity."