of Brookfield Square Mall continue to be transformed
Wednesday as the mall’s owners look to keep the shopping
center vibrant with new entertainment and shopping
BROOKFIELD — Since its inception more than a
half-century ago, Brookfield Square has been known as
one of Waukesha County’s major shopping metropolises.
But as consumer spending habits and large-scale changes
within the retail industry continue at a brisk pace this
year, mall management continues to careen the venerable
property in a new direction.
While it remains a focal point, Brookfield Square is
scaling down on traditional retail space and repurposing
some of its land for destination- type establishments,
such as restaurants and entertainment venues. It is a
playbook occurring at malls elsewhere in the U.S.
Last year, Brookfield Square lost two of its three department store
anchors within a six-month span. Sears sold its last
Craftsman tool in March, while Boston Store closed its
longtime doors at the tail end of summer.
A one-two punch of large-scale changes could have once
spelled trouble for a regional shopping mall, but Stacey
Keating, spokeswoman with CBL Properties, said
executives have been working vigorously behind the
scenes to ensure Brookfield Square remains a vital part
of the Greater Milwaukee marketplace.
Chattanooga, Tenn.-based CBL Properties owns most of
Brookfield Square. JCPenney and the former Boston Store
buildings are under separate ownership.
In an email interview with The Freeman, Keating offered
a status update on Brookfield Square’s southeast end,
which has been dotted with construction equipment since
demolition began on the former Sears big box space early
WhirlyBall and a Marcus BistroPlex are slated to replace
the former Sears site. When asked about their status,
Keating said, “We don’t have a concrete date,” for
either establishment. However, she said WhirlyBall could
be up and running as soon as late summer, while the
BistroPlex has been targeted tentatively for fall.
Outback Steakhouse, which is relocating from its current
site south of the mall, near the Brookfield- New Berlin
border, is set to occupy one of the Sears outlots, near
the already operating Uncle Julio’s.
“Outback plans to begin construction in the spring and
plans to open this summer,” Keating said.
Inside the mall, there are a number of changes afoot —
many pointing to broader issues within the retail
industry across the U.S.
Brookfield Square is about to shed several of its inline
stores as a number of struggling retail chains, some in
bankruptcy, are reducing their national footprint or
outright liquidating the entire fleet.
Brookfield Square will soon lose such longtime mall
staples as Charlotte Russe, Gymboree and Payless Shoes.
Keating said CBL management had been prepared for the
potential losses before the closures were announced and
also remarked the shifts will present new opportunities
in the future.
“These retailers have been on our internal watch list
for some time, and their filings are not a surprise,”
Keating said of the trio of retailers mentioned.
Permanent and temporary replacements are being sought,
she said, adding, “These closures provide us an
opportunity to bring in more diverse uses and position
our properties for more success, long-term. Once plans
are finalized, and leases signed for these specific
locations, we’ll be excited to share more details.”
While extensive changes have taken place on Brookfield
Square’s southeast corridor, the northeast side of the
mall sits dormant as questions abound on the future of
the former Boston Store space.
At this time, Keating said, there is no further
information to share on the Boston Store site. But she
said CBL management continues to work proactively to
seek a long-term solution to the vacancy.
“This location is still under separate ownership,”
Keating said. “We are working with the owner to identify
redevelopment opportunities that will elevate the
building into a productive use for the property.”
As the number of national mall-based retailers has
declined in recent decades, malls such as Brookfield
Square have relied more on local retailers to fill in
some of the gaps.
As 2019 unfolds, Keating said CBL is planning its
continuation of Small Business Expos into the mall. Four
shows are slated this year: April 5-7, May 3-5, Aug.
16-18 and Nov. 2224.
“The Small Business Expos provide an opportunity for
local retailers and vendors to interact with Brookfield
Square shoppers,” Keating said.
Also in the works is a pair of Pet Expos — one set for
May 18, the other on Oct. 19.
“Shoppers and vendors are invited to bring their leashed
pet and enjoy a day devoted to our furry family
members,” Keating said.
<<EARLIER: Brookfield Square changes will go beyond
<<EARLIER: Sears property redevelopment
underway at Brookfield Square