Developers revise Brookfield Wheel & Sprocket proposal

A rendering of the revised proposal for a mixed-use building at the corner of Lilly Road and Capitol Drive.

BROOKFIELD — After hearing an earful from nearby residents, developers have tweaked a new mixed-use project at the current site of a Wheel and Sprocket retail store on Brookfield’s north side and received support from a city panel.

Noel Kegel, who heads up Wheel and Sprocket and the affiliated Kegel Real Estate, went before the Plan Commission on Monday with a pared-down project that reduced the overall building height and revamped a building design that is aimed at better blending in with the surrounding area for the land at 3950 Lilly Road and 13925 Capitol Drive.

The new development proposal includes a four-story development along Capitol Drive — a change from the initial plans this summer that included renderings for a five-story complex.

The first story would house retail, including Wheel and Sprocket, while the upper three stories would accommodate a mixture of one-, two- and three-bedroom townhouses, with a total of 75 units included in the plans. Prior iterations of the proposal featured traditional apartment units.

Planning Administrator Richard VanDerWal said the revised plans come as other details — including a traffic impact study — have taken place since the project was first announced this summer.

“The meat of the plans have not changed,” VanDerWal said.

Addressing residents’ concerns

Since the project was unveiled, residents have shared various viewpoints, with some lauding the new project in an area dotted with aging structures and others raising concerns about the height of the project and a perceived “sea of asphalt” appearance. On the latter point, Dan Ertl, director of community development, attempted to poke holes in such thinking.

Regarding the percentage of green space in the overall site design, Ertl said, “It would go from 5 percent (in the current layout) to 25 percent. The notion that this site is becoming more pavement or more building is wrong. It will be more green space than what is there today.”

On Monday, Kegel doubled down on his desire to move forward with the project. Wheel and Sprocket has operated a store in Brookfield for 37 years and has maintained a presence at the existing Capitol Drive site for more than a quarter century.

“The building itself is past its useful life,” Kegel said. “There are a number of issues with the site and with the building. There’s an old gas station on the corner, and we’re really excited about the opportunity to reimagine the site and reimagine our business in Brookfield. It would require new construction.”

Kegel said the housing component was necessary to justify the cost of constructing a new development in place of the existing building, which has roots going back to 1963.

“The only way to make it more economically feasible is to bring in new construction,” Kegel said. “We really want to be here, and we want to be good community partners.”

Joseph F. Lak Jr., a partner with business advisory firm The Heimat Group, is working with Kegel on the redevelopment plans.

“We genuinely appreciate the feedback we’ve received throughout the process,” Lak said. “We want to understand what fits with the community and find a way that works for everyone involved.”

Commissioners said they were pleased with the latest plans and agreed to move the proposal forward to the next step, including a public hearing in December.

Alderman Gary Mahkorn, who sits on the Plan Commission, said he reviewed every nook and cranny of the existing area and had a revealing experience.

“I was shocked. I don’t want to sound dramatic, but it is blighted,” Mahkorn said. “This is Brookfield, and we have every obligation this remains vital. I was never aware of how bad this area had become.”