Town of Brookfield commissioners raise concerns about The Corners project
Preliminary approval recommended for site work, but more info sought

By Katherine Michalets - Special to The Freeman

Nov. 26, 2014

TOWN OF BROOKFIELD — On Tuesday, Plan Commissioners recommended conceptual approval and partial preliminary approval for site work to begin for The Corners project, but shared many concerns first and asked for additional information.

The conceptual approval for the mixed-use retail and residential development to be anchored by high-end department store Von Maur was given conceptual approval by the Town Board in March. But that approval has since expired, like other agreements such as for tax incremental financing for the project that will also need to be revisited.

The item for Tuesday’s agenda dealt with utilities, water lines and demolition work, but discussion often veered to the larger picture.

While Tri-North Builders was hoping for a mid-December start, the commission urged consideration for starting on Jan. 2, so the three remaining businesses on the southeast corner of Bluemound and Barker roads would not be disrupted during the holiday shopping season. Other requests included a written affirmation from Von Maur that it still intends to be part of The Corners and a representative from Bradford or Marcus Corporation would be present to discuss financial and other aspects of the project.

Commissioner Eric Halbur said he was concerned that preparation work would be done but then the deal for The Corners would fall through.

“I love to think this is going to happen; I am all about being positive,” Halbur said. “We can’t be stuck with a hole in the ground on a property like that.”

Chuck Sampey, the owner’s representative for Bradford, which is working with Marcus Corporation on a joint venture to build and operate The Corners, said once the joint venture agreement is in place and the contract is signed, then the project can start in earnest.

The change in project leadership also worried Halbur and other commissioners, who said there was a level of trust with Marcus and it was with that company the town guaranteed tax incremental financing.

Commissioner Mike Schmitt said town representatives had seen conceptual drawings, but nothing with more detailed information.

“That’s what is giving us angst on this,” Schmitt said.

Plans being tweaked

Sampey said he was tweaking the plans, such as removing turrets from buildings or adjusting a building’s angle, but he would bring approximately 110-pages of plans to Town Hall on Tuesday for review before that night’s Town Board meeting. The board will then discuss the Plan Commission’s recommendation.

Sampey said some of the more significant changes include taking out office space and adding more floors to the luxury apartments that the Mandel Group is handling.

Commissioner Ryan Stanelle said the town worked quickly in the past to help meet the project deadlines, but now those same items need to be approved again.

Sampey said with the project being so complex it takes a lot of effort.

Commissioner Len Smeltzer said he felt more comfortable with the project Tuesday than in February because he was hearing more details.

Sampey said he didn’t expect The Corners to open until autumn 2016 with the space being turned over to retailers to start building from about May to July 2016. The summer of 2016 is when model apartments might be set up.

“This is the kind of ramping up that is needed for a project of this size,” he said.

In other meeting news, a public hearing will be held on a conditional use permit for a memorial garden and columbarium for cremated remains at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 20275 Davidson Road.