Marcus Corp. files lawsuit over planned cinema at The Corners
Town of Brookfield, Brookfield Corners LLC named in suit

By Dave Fidlin - Special to The Freeman

Nov. 3, 2017

TOWN OF BROOKFIELD — The parent company of a local movie theater chain on Thursday made good on a pledge to take legal action against a planned cinema at The Corners mixed-use development.

The Milwaukee-based Marcus Corporation filed a lawsuit in Waukesha County Circuit Court against the Town of Brookfield and Brookfield Corners LLC, alleging the addition of a nine-screen movie theatre by competitor Silverspot Cinemas breaches the terms of a developer’s agreement.

After months of reviews, the Brookfield Town Board in early October gave final approval for conceptual plans related to a 38-foot vertical addition on The Corners’ easterly end. This summer, Florida-based Silverspot, which has five theaters open or under construction elsewhere in the country, was named the cinema operator.

Marcus, owner of the town-based Majestic Cinema a mile away from Silverspot’s proposed site, had a role in spearheading The Corners nearly a decade ago and continues to retain a 10-percent ownership stake as a minority partner.

In a statement issued Thursday, Marcus officials said majority owners IM Properties and Bradford Real Estate moved forward with the cinema plans without having the company’s authorization.

Reiterating comments made at a Town Board meeting Oct. 3 — the date municipal officials approved plans — Marcus also stated it does not believe a cinema belongs at the new development, which opened in April.

“Had we thought a theatre at The Corners was a good idea, we would have either included one in the original, agreed-to design or built one ourselves,” Marcus President and CEO Gregory Marcus said in a statement.

He added, “We are deeply invested in the success of The Corners as an investor, construction guarantor and fellow taxpayer in the Town of Brookfield.”

In court documents, Marcus representatives also said the cinema addition could adversely impact The Corners’ long-term viability.

“The proposed theatre is a significant project addition that will dramatically extend the project’s completion date and increase its debt to fund the associated construction costs,” the company wrote in one passage amid the 18-page legal document.

The Corners’ majority stakeholders have continued to assert they have the authority to proceed with plans for the cinema addition and do not believe Marcus’ lawsuit has merit.

“We did our due diligence before we proceeded with the theater plans,” Robert Gould, CEO of Brookfield Corners LLC, said in a statement Thursday after the lawsuit was filed. “We are confident in our position and right to proceed as we did.”

Attempts to reach town officials before deadline were not successful. At last month’s Town Board meeting, however, Town Attorney James Hammes said he was comfortable approving the agreement.

Hammes had directed the board to focus on the cinema project itself. He said disputes over the developer’s agreement will have to be sorted out among Marcus, Bradford Real Estate and IM Properties.

“This should be based on zoning, the use of the property and how it fits into the development,” Hammes said a month ago.

“One way or another, you’ll see what happens.”