Officials reviewing plans for Brookfield Square BistroPlex theater
Would replace most of Sears, though department store would remain

By Dave Fidlin - Special to The Freeman

Nov. 15, 2017

A rendering of the BistroPlex theater planned for the current Sears
department store site at Brookfield Square.
Submitted rendering

BROOKFIELD — Plans for a Marcus Corp. multiplex theater at Brookfield Square have come into sharper focus following some recently revealed details.

This summer, Marcus announced it planned to open a so-called BistroPlex at the site of the current Sears department store, 115 S. Moorland Road, within the mall. On Monday, the Plan Commission reviewed how the 41,000-square-foot theater would fit into the property layout.

In a memo, Dan Ertl, director of community development, said Sears would continue to maintain a presence at the mall, though its footprint would be drastically reduced from its current two-story configuration.

In addition to the Bistro- Plex, other areas of the Sears space could be razed or repurposed for additional new retail uses, including an establishment offering bumper car rides in a sports bar environment.

Renderings from Schroeder and Holt Architects, the firm contracted to draw up the designs for the repurposed Sears space, listed Whirlyball as a tenant within the new space. The company, which operates under the tag line “eat, drink, game on,” has operations throughout the Chicago area.

Calls to Ertl for clarification on Whirlyball were not returned by press deadline. A call to Whirlyball’s corporate office also was not returned.

According to Plan Commission documents, Monday’s discussion focused primarily on the Bistro-Plex, and Ertl indicated in his memo further details about the rest of the redevelopment would be coming down the pike.

“The proposed redevelopment will be presented to the Plan Commission in various stages and steps,” Ertl wrote. “Due to the need for an accelerated entitlement process for one of the largest components of the redevelopment this item precedes other requests for approval from CBL.”

In correspondence sent to the city, Mark Gramz, executive vice president of operations with Marcus, said the theater would operate under the proposed hours of 9 a.m. and 1 a.m. daily.

“The building is an all in-theatre dining experience with full wait staff, where guests would be served food directly at every seat inside the building while watching the movie,” Gramz wrote. “We will be seeking a liquor license.”

Marcus opened its first Milwaukee-area Bistro-Plex in an outlot at Southridge Mall this summer.

Hoffman Estates, Illinois- based Sears Holdings Corp., parent company of Sears, sold its venerable department store and ancillary auto center early this year to CBL and Associates, owner of Brookfield Square.

Sears has since continued operations through a lease-back agreement, though the first of multiple changes began this spring when the auto center closed.

The city is in separate talks to repurpose the auto center site for a combination hotel and convention center.

Sears Holdings, which also owns Kmart, has closed hundreds of stores this year after contending with ongoing financial losses for both struggling chains.

More recently, the company has shrunk the footprint of some of its Sears stores, focusing primarily on appliances and mattresses, which are two of its strongest categories.