By Bob Uphues
The developer who brought Brookfield a new single-family home that fetched the highest sale price in the village's history now has his eyes on building a six-unit condo building at 4531 Forest Ave., where units will list for between $250,000 and $300,000.
On Dec. 28, the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that the village board grant a zoning variation to developer Thomas Frenkel of DT Group LLC that will allow the building to exceed the number of units per square footage of property.
Brookfield village trustees got their first look at the project at their committee of the whole meeting on Jan. 8; no trustees voiced any objections to the development.
The zoning code allows one unit per 8,004 square feet of property, meaning that by right, the Forest Avenue property could accommodate a building of less than four units.
However, there are other six-unit buildings that already exist on similar lots on the block, and the Planning and Zoning Commission concurred with the village's planning staff that construction of another six-unit building was in harmony with existing conditions there.
"The whole block consists of what we want to build," Frenkel told planning and zoning commissioners on Dec. 28, though that overstated the case a bit.
While the east side of the 4500 block of Forest Avenue is lined with multi-family buildings, many of them housing six units, the west side of the block is zoned differently and is lined only with single-family homes.
The lot Frenkel wants to develop formerly contained a single-family home that he purchased out of foreclosure. It had sat vacant for many years.
And some of Frenkel's new neighbors on the single-family side of the street voiced concerns about adding another six units – and the vehicles they'd bring – to the neighborhood.
"It going to be pretty crowded," said Patrick Kehoe, who lives across the street in a single-family home. "If you're going to visit anyone, you better walk."
Sarah Koukol, another neighbor from across the street, said that while it was positive that something was slated to replace the formerly boarded-up home that's now been demolished, also worried about more vehicles on the street.
"It's good to see something's going to be going into there, but I don't know if a six unit is the answer," Koukol said.
Frenkel tried to assure neighbors that he has built enough onsite parking into the site plan of the proposed 2.5-story structure he's proposing. In addition to two two-car garages built into the rear of the building's ground floor, parking for an additional six vehicles is planned for the rear of the property.
According to Frenkel, one of the two garden-level units of the development, which is tentatively called The Grande Dame, is slated to be a one-bedroom condo. Plans on file with the village indicate both are two-bedroom units.
Plans also indicate that the two first-floor units will be two-bedrooms, while the second floor includes one two-bedroom unit and one three-bedroom unit. Frenkel called the floor plans, "urban, open-style" designs geared toward millennials.
In his application for the zoning variation, Frenkel describes The Grande Dame as a "luxury condominium building," though the plans show the building to be simply designed with a plain brick front punctuated by an entrance portico, with siding covering the other facades of the building and a metal roof.
The chairman of the Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission, Charles Grund, criticized the design as "unattractive," but noted the commission had no basis to block the request on the basis of design, because it was not in a zoning district where there are explicitly defined building design standards.
"If this building was in one of the Station Area districts … it would not be allowed in this style," Grund said. "But if it's allowed by the code, it's allowed by the code. I just wish it was a bit more attractive."
Frenkel said the units will have the same smart technology systems he used in building the single-family home at 8832 Congress Park Ave., just a couple of blocks north of proposed six-unit condo building.
The 4,600-square-foot house on Congress Park Avenue sold in September for $689,000, the highest-priced single-family home sale in Brookfield history.
"We have put Brookfield on the map with our buildings, designs and pricing," Frenkel said.
Frenkel said he thinks the Forest Avenue condos will also fetch high prices.
"When we bring the downtown style into Brookfield, the young millennials will be all over this," Frenkel said.
The Brookfield Village Board is expected to approve the commission's recommendation at their next meeting on Jan. 22.