Operator for new Brookfield Square hotel, conference center named
Other details, including hotel brand, remain under wraps

By Dave Fidlin - Special to The Freeman

Oct. 18, 2017

Brookfield officials continue developing plans for a large hotel and adjacent conference center at the former Sears Auto Center space on the southeast side of Brookfield Square.
Freeman file photo

BROOKFIELD — Details surrounding the future of the former Sears Auto Center space on the southeast side of Brookfield Square mall have begun surfacing.

Middleton-based North Central Group is expected to manage a planned 5-story, 170-room hotel and adjacent conference center at a site where oil changes and car repairs were once commonplace amid a sea of asphalt.

The Common Council on Tuesday met in closed session to discuss negotiations over the transaction. Aldermen discussed strategy with Mayor Steve Ponto and Community Development Director Dan Ertl behind closed doors over two issues related to the transaction.

An announcement made prior to going into closed session indicated the council would not reconvene into open session, signifying no action was being taken.

The city for months has reviewed specifics over the proposed purchase of a 9.5- acre parcel of land directly south of the Sears department store building at the mall. The now-shuttered Sears Auto Center building and swaths of parking lot space occupy the parcel.

Chattanooga, Tennessee-based CBL and Associates currently owns the property.

Once the transaction between CBL and the city is completed, the city plans to sell 2.5 acres of the parcel for the hotel and enter into a lease agreement with North Central to manage the conference center.

“There are a lot of moving parts to this,” Ponto said.

Renderings included in Tuesday’s council packet indicate the conference center, eyed on the eastern portion of the parcel, is expected to encompass 6.7 acres. The hotel, which is to be conjoined by a walkway, is slated for 2.5 acres on the western portion.

North Central’s portfolio of properties, according to the company’s website, includes 30 hotels in six states across the U.S. Locally, the company operates Hampton Inn at 575 N. Barker Road in the Town of Brookfield.

Officials have been mum on what the hotel nameplate will be at the Brookfield Square site. Other North Central properties operate under brands associated with the Hilton and Marriott chains.

CBL, the longtime owner of most of Brookfield Square, purchased Sears’ department store space and the ancillary auto center early this year.

Sears continues to operate its department store for the time being through a leaseback agreement, though Marcus Theatres has announced plans of operating a BistroPlex at the site.

Capitol Heights development

Also Tuesday, the council amended a developer’s agreement with Naples, Floridabased Tendick Business Group for the three-parcel, mixed-use Capitol Heights development at the corner of Beaufort and Capitol drives.

“Over the past few years, we have worked with the city to market and develop these three parcels in a fashion designed to improve this portion of Capitol Drive,” Donald Tendick Jr., a managing member of the firm, wrote in a letter to the city.

The company has sold two of the three parcels, Tendick said, and construction on new development is underway. The initial draft of the agreement stated an office building was to occupy the third parcel by Dec. 31, but the plan has not yet come to fruition.

“We feel that the construction on the two sold lots will garner attention from potential buyers evaluating the market,” Tendick wrote in the letter, expressing confidence the third parcel will be developed soon.